Montana Public Radio

Disability Rights Montana

 


This story is part of our series that looks at lasting ways Montana is adapting during the pandemic. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network.

Criminal justice system reformers for years have sought to reduce county jail and state prison populations in Montana. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the process, mostly at county detention facilities across the state.

The Montana Supreme Court will not mandate expanded measures requested by disability rights advocates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Montana prisons and jails.

Justices Tuesday unanimously denied a petition filed two weeks ago by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana on behalf of Disability Rights Montana.

Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Gov. Steve Bullock Wednesday issued a directive aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Montana’s Correctional facilities. But it was dismissed as too little, too late by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and disability rights advocates.

The Montana Supreme Court weighed in late in the afternoon.

Noah, a fifth grader in West Valley School District, works with his grandmother Sherry Kirksey on math at the kitchen table as school doors remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Courtesy Kelly Fisk

As Montana schools begin to provide education remotely in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus, parents will be serving as their child’s co-teacher at home. For many, that’s a large undertaking, but it’s even more of a challenge for parents of students with special needs.

The Montana SOS Office is holding a certification event for the ExpressVote voting system Tue, Aug 28, in Helena. The device is designed to help people with disabilities vote, but local election officials will urge everyone to use them in coming elections
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Secretary of State’s office plans to sign-off on a new touchscreen voting system designed for voters with disabilities that could be used at county polling sites as early as this November.

The ExpressVote system resembles a touchscreen desktop computer or ATM. Voters insert a ballot, scroll through pages of candidates or initiatives and make their picks, and then hit print.

Gavel.
(PD)

A U.S. appeals court Friday said a Montana judge confused two cases when he mistakenly threw out a lawsuit four years ago alleging that inmates with serious mental illnesses weren't receiving the treatment they need.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon of Great Falls threw out the lawsuit in 2015 by Disability Rights Montana that claims mentally ill inmates in Montana State Prison were being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. 

Bill Would Let Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women Get Treatment Without Prosecution

Feb 4, 2019
A baby clutches a parent's finger. Stock photo.
(PD)

Drug-addicted pregnant women could seek addiction treatment without the fear of prosecution or having their child taken away under a proposed bill in the Legislature.

Caregiver. File photo.
iStock

The Montana health department is proposing a $1-per-hour wage increase for direct-care workers for disability services. It’s part of Governor Steve Bullock’s plan to restore budget cuts enacted over the last two years. But not all the money that was cut is getting put back.

Office of the governor, budget and program planning.
William Marcus

Budgets within Montana’s state health department and office of public defender are busted.

Lawmakers in the Legislative Finance Committee Wednesday debated a proposal from Governor Steve Bullock to borrow more than $23 million from next year’s budget to pay for the state’s current financial troubles.

Vicki LaFond-Smith, mother of two sons with disabilities, Beth Brennaman, staff attorney with Disability Rights Montana, and Jackie Mohler, staff at Family Outreach at a Helena, MT press conference on Health Department Funding,  Monday, February 26, 2018.
Corin

A group of disability rights advocates are calling on Governor Steve Bullock to immediately backfill some of the more than $49 million in cuts to the state health department made during the special legislative session last year. But, the governor’s office says it doesn’t have the power to do that.

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