There's been a big debate over whether community life would work for these former residents. Wednesday, one spoke out. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger keeps us Connected to the Capitol.
Eddie Flemming says he's doing great. Governor Quinn even used him as an example of how this transition can work. Eddie says life is a lot different with a new set of walls.
"I didn't do much."
Eddie Flemming doesn't have much to say about his 13-years at the Jacksonville Developmental Center.
"You shared rooms with several people. You ate at designated times."
But, ask Eddie about his new home and he opens right up.
"It's a big house and I can help with supper and I can go upstair, play my music."
Eddie shares a house with two others. He has his own room.
"He decides what he wants to eat. He can eat as long as it takes him to eat."
Best of all, he can play his guitar as much as he wants.
"We believe in being able to walk around the neighborhood and make new friends, isn't that right?"
"And then also, how about being able to play your guitar on your own porch."
Governor Quinn says Eddie is the prime example of how this system can work. He wants to shut down all state institutions and move patients into the community.
"We want to make sure that everybody has the freedom and the choice and the independence that they deserve on this earth."
Eddie's caregiver says that new sense of freedom is working.
"It's something that you and I take for granted everyday. We go take a drink of water or get a cup of coffee anytime. To them, having a cup of coffee anytime they wanted to, that was nice."
Even though Eddie is a great example, critics say there are other patients who won't fit into this community setting. They're pushing to keep institutions open, but Quinn is already closing another one in Centralia.
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