Podcast Episode 3: My New Challenge: Conservatorship Injustices
This episode of the podcast series picks up where the second episode left off. It describes the shift in the advocacy activities of Tom Coleman after his memoirs were published in 2009. He ventured into the area of abuse of people with disabilities, especially those with developmental disabilities, with the goal of promoting more effective responses to such abuse by government agencies. While doing that important work, Coleman was introduced to an extremely challenging set of problems with the probate conservatorship system in California. After investigating a few specific cases of young adults with developmental disabilities whose rights were violated in these legal proceedings, Coleman dug deeper.
Were these isolated incidents or were the problems more widespread? His investigation showed that tens of thousands of adults with cognitive disabilities were being victimized in California by a system that was intended to help them. Coleman identified many flaws with the probate conservatorship system and then set out on a journey to correct them. Through his work with Spectrum Institute, Coleman filed complaints, wrote policy reports, and published commentaries in the legal newspaper. He approached elected officials. He spoke at conferences. A documentary was created by filmmaker Greg Byers tracking Coleman and a small group of advocates as they tried to shake up the status quo. This episode of the podcast shows clips from the documentary film with commentaries provided by Coleman about the relevance of each film clip to the larger effort of conservatorship reform in California and guardianship reform in states throughout the nation.