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Declaring that Florida has willfully failed take care of its developmentally disabled residents, a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale has found the Department of Children and Families in contempt of court, and ordered the state to pay $10,000 a day until it abides by a 3-year-old court order to improve the program.

The fine stems from an August 1996 ruling by U.S. District Judge Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr., who ordered the state to eliminate its huge waiting list for services such as housing and medicine at privately run care facilities. He called the state’s failure to care for the disabled unlawful discrimination. Ferguson’s ruling was upheld on appeal the following April.

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