By Betsy Blaney, Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — It took more than 40 years for Leonard Barefield to finally get to choose where he lived.
The intellectually-disabled Texas native moved to a group home in Lubbock in September after he had first lived in near slavery conditions for more than three decades in a squalid house in Iowa and worked at a turkey processing plant there for 41 cents an hour. After being freed by social workers from that situation, he was sent in 2008 to a nursing home in Midland, Texas.
His plight is not uncommon in Texas, where people with such disabilities are routinely warehoused in nursing homes, according to a lawsuit brought by Barefield and other disabled people. Advocates for the intellectually-disabled — a condition affecting reasoning and learning — say Texas is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws by denying services that could allow more than 4,000 people to live in the community.
The state denies it is exploiting the disabled, saying it is committed to providing them with the highest quality of services.
The 71-year-old Barefield has a developmental disability, suffers from depression and other mental health and medical conditions, and has high blood pressure, court records show. He wears a hearing aid and his speech is significantly impaired. But he can read, write and drive a truck.
Barefield lives with three other intellectually disabled men in a well-maintained and spacious home.
“It’s better here,” he said, nodding his head…