For the Disability Community, Britney Spears’ Situation Is All Too Familiar

It’s actually very difficult to end the conservatorship or guardianship under any circumstances. There’s a case of a young man named Ryan King. He’s not a young man anymore. It’s been years. So Ryan King finished high school and has an intellectual disability. And his parents were told, like a lot of parents are, “Look, he has an intellectual disability. You need to put him under guardianship.” So they did because that’s what they were told they had to do. And he was actually a very functional, independent adult, unexpectedly. He had a job at a supermarket for 10 years. He was paying his own rent. So his parents looked at the situation, and they talked to him about it, and they were like, “We don’t think we need this guardianship. You’re clearly fine.” So they go to the court and ask the court to remove the guardianship. And in this case, everybody agrees. The parents agree, who are the guardians. Ryan agrees. And the court said no.

Because once someone is determined to be under guardianship, it’s civil death. It’s very unusual for a guardianship to be removed or reversed. Because the idea is that it gets imposed when someone is fundamentally incapable and then being able to prove you’re capable when you’ve been determined to be fundamentally incapable is like a Catch-22. You don’t have the opportunity to really prove your competence.

It is completely reasonable for families to want to protect people they care about. The problem is that the guardianship system itself is just so unregulated. We don’t actually even know how many people are under guardianship in the United States.

The problem is that if you have a system that relies on the unchecked, unsupervised benevolence of someone who more or less has absolute power over another person, that’s dangerous.

Read more in Slate.

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