The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) strongly condemns the institutionalization of Arnaldo Rios-Soto, an Autistic Latino young man, in Carlton Palms – a facility with a long history of abuse. Rios-Soto had witnessed North Miami police shoot and injure his therapist, Charles Kinsey, and had been restrained by police for hours following the shooting. Following this traumatic experience, Rios-Soto was held for over a month in a psychiatric hospital because of Florida’s failure to offer community-based housing supports at the level of care that he needed. Ultimately, the only housing option that Rios-Soto was offered on discharge was an institution that is not only far from his family but also the subject of numerous abuse complaints. As a result, this facility has already been required to begin transitioning its existing residents to community-based housing and has for years been the subject of calls for a moratorium on new admissions.
After his traumatic experiences at the hands of Miami-Dade County police, Rios-Soto needs community-based housing that will provide the supports he needs. His institutionalization at Carlton Palms is an unacceptable and grievous violation of his right to safety and his right to integration into the community under Olmstead. ASAN notes that in addition to Rios-Soto, Reginald “Neli” Latson, a Black Autistic young adult previously held in unjust solitary confinement in prison, is also currently institutionalized at Carlton Palms.
The institutionalization of these young men shows the dire need for states to meaningfully commit to providing adequate community-based services. Without adequate services and real community-based housing options, authorities often shunt disabled people in need of services into inappropriate placements such as Carlton Palms. These facilities are not appropriate or safe for anyone, regardless of their level of support need.
ASAN calls upon the state of Florida to expand its community-based options. We also call on the Department of Justice to investigate Florida’s systematic violation of Rios-Soto’s and others’ rights under Olmstead by failing to provide adequate community-based services. Rios-Soto has already been subjected to more trauma and isolation than anyone should experience. He deserves a real home in the community – his own home.
For more information on ASAN’s positions on Rios-Soto’s situation and self-directed community services, please contact Sam Crane, ASAN’s Director of Public Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.