When a system is truly broken, piecemeal reforms rarely result in significant improvement. Ben addresses seemingly intractable problems by filing class-action lawsuits that attack the system-wide problems. By bringing together the best minds in the field for consultation and assistance both during and after the active litigation of his cases, Ben has been able to negotiate consent decrees and settlement agreements with government agencies that have achieved real system reform in the most challenging circumstances. Some of the agencies where Ben’s work has led to major systemic reforms include the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS); the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center; and most recently, in the State of Illinois’ system for the care of mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals.
Each of these cases involved a long battle, and at any of these junctures, Ben could have declared victory and moved on to a more lucrative path. But he isn’t after a victory. He is now and always has been focused on improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in our community, and that is why Ben Wolf is the 2010 Morsch Award recipient.