Albany, New York – Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) was joined by bill co-sponsors Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember Alice Cancel, and Assemblymember Thomas Abinanti; as well as Michael Carey of the Jonathan Carey Foundation, and Disability Rights Attorneys Ilann Maazel & Rob Santoriella to push for the passage of bill A8307 (Weprin)/S6010 (Lanza) to stop the abuse of individuals in homes for the disabled.
A8307 mandates that incidents of suspected abuse and neglect of people with illnesses, disabilities and vulnerabilities are reported to a 9-1-1 operator, the county district attorney, and the vulnerable person's register. The current law, which only mandates reporting of neglect and abuse to New York's Justice Center - a state agency created to hold caretakers accountable, has resulted in persistent incidences of heartbreaking abuse of disabled individuals across New York State and denies our most vulnerable citizens equal protection under the law.
These tragedies include the death of 13-year old Jonathan Carey, who was crushed as a worker attempted to restrain him in 2007; the bruised face of a 12-year old developmentally disabled boy, who spoke of daily abuse involving punching and; the uncovering of a Bronx where cases of abuse occurred on a daily basis.
The disabled, addicted, mentally ill and young people in the care of New York State deserve protection from abuse in homes for the disabled and equal protection under the law.
“As the Chair of the Assembly Task Force for People with Disabilities, I want to see an end to the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at state run facilities and group homes” said Assemblyman David Weprin. “Making this change will not only reduce cases of abuse, but also provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our justice system and equal protection under the law. There is no reason we cannot come together to protect New York’s most vulnerable citizens by mandating 9-1-1 reporting.”
“Mandating 9-1-1 reporting of incidents of neglect and abuse against individuals with disabilities who reside in state run facilities and group homes is the right thing to do” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “These are our state’s most vulnerable citizens; many are nonverbal or have other difficulties communicating, they have nowhere to go and no one to speak for them. This bill will only require the same access to justice, equal protection of laws as New York provides for all of its other citizens.”
“The emergency 911 call systems across New York State can no longer be bypassed when people with disabilities are victims of crimes. All people in NYS should have the same equal privilege to emergency first responder medical and police a service which is their constitutional right to ‘equal protection of laws’” said Michael Carey of the Jonathan Carey Foundation. “Currently, this is not the case regarding most people with disabilities. The discrimination against our most vulnerable and denial of their equal rights must end now.”
“Abuse will never end as long as it remains in the shadows" said Disability Rights Attorney Ilann Maazel of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady.
“It is my belief that the 911 Bill will level the playing field as it should be” said Disability Rights Attorney Robert Santoriella of the Law Offices of Robert P. Santoriella. “Our office handles cases involving the constitutional rights of the developmentally disabled. So many times we have seen ‘unequal’ protection under the law for New York's most vulnerable citizens.”