Photograph of James with advocate Tabitha Bryant

Our attorneys first met James on a monitoring visit to Broughton Hospital in 2015. James, who is deaf, had been institutionalized for nine months. In the hospital, he felt like a “zombie,” walking around in a stupor. “I felt like I was going to die sometimes,” he said of that time. “It was awful.”

His treatment team said he was ready for discharge, and James wanted to go home. James had lived in the small town of Vale, NC since he was born and, for the past 19 years, he had lived in a mobile home on his family’s property. He cherished his privacy and the nearness to his family.

But James’ treatment team recommended he be discharged to a group home in Asheville, more than an hour away from his hometown. James objected to this plan, so our attorneys investigated. They found that the treatment team was misinformed about the condition of James’ home and his ability to live in the community. They advocated for an inspection of his property. They also connected him to the Transitions to Community Living Initiative, which arranges for services and supports that allow people with disabilities to live in their communities rather than in institutions.

James was discharged to his home, to the delight of his family. He enrolled in a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program that meets four days a week, and he wants to work to support his independence. One day, he would like to move to a bigger city, where he could meet others who know American Sign Language. But if he does leave his hometown, this time it will be on his own terms.