Frame Analysis of Public Debate Surrounding the Closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center
Pearson, Rachel M.
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In November of 2012, the last residents of the Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC) left the facility, a historic step forward for the State of Illinois in the evolution of long-term supports and services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The debate surrounding the closure of JDC revealed a deeply conflicted public consciousness in regards to deinstitutionalization. For decades, disability theorists have challenged antiquated frames of disability, such as the Medical Model, with new frames. But frame analysis as a research methodology has been underutilized in its applications for disability policy. In this study, frame analysis was used in a textual coding of 146 documents in the public record: testimony from public hearings before the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability regarding the closure of JDC, and newspaper articles which covered the JDC closure debate from the Chicago Tribune and the Jacksonville Journal Courier. The analysis demonstrates the different frames that dominated opposing sides of the JDC closure debate, the different frames that dominated the public testimony in contrast to the media pieces, and the different frames that dominated distinct stakeholder groups. Seven State-Operated Developmental Centers still stand in the State of Illinois and a great deal of public debate remains to be waged over deinstitutionalization. It is the intent of this study to inform future debate.