Hundreds of concerned residents, their families and caretakers gathered at a public hearing on Thursday to try to keep the state's Tinley Park mental health facility open.
The state has the Howe Developmental Center on a list of state facilites to be shutdown in an effort to save money.
Opponents of the plan offered impassioned pleas to an independant commission of state lawmakers, some of whom expressed their own doubts about whether Howe residents could be better served anyplace else.
Betty Turtuillo, whose daughter has lived at the facility since 1974, told the commission that, "A move for many individuals will mean a death sentence."
The panel has until Jan. 21 to issue its opinion, but the state can close Howe regardless of the vote.