Monday, May 07, 2012

Cuomo to Seek New Agency to Protect Against Abuse of People with Disabilities

See this article in the New York Times.  It begins:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seeking to strengthen the state’s chronically weak response to abuse of disabled people who live in publicly financed homes, plans this week to propose creating an agency dedicated to investigating problems with the care of nearly one million vulnerable New Yorkers.

The new law enforcement and oversight agency would monitor those in state or private care who have developmental disabilities like autism or cerebral palsy, mental illnesses including schizophrenia, and other conditions, among them traumatic brain injuries, that put them at risk. The agency would employ a special prosecutor and would be granted subpoena power and the authority to convene grand juries, according to a draft plan obtained by The New York Times. 
The administration is also proposing tougher laws to punish those who abuse people with developmental or other cognitive disabilities. And Mr. Cuomo would, for the first time, expand the reach of the state’s Freedom of Information Law by requiring the thousands of nonprofit organizations that house the bulk of those in state care to make abuse and neglect records public.
We'll see if this package can get enacted.  If it does, crucial questions include whether the new agency will apply the same standards to publicly and privately owned facilities, and how well the agency will balance the interests in protection of and free choices for people with disabilities.  All told, though, this looks like a serious and credible effort to respond to the abuses that the Times has done such important work to document.



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