Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) along with three other members of the House of Representatives sent a letter requesting the US Department of Justice investigate the New York State Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center) for failure to protect individuals with special needs, including nine Suffolk County residents who died while under the care of the Justice Center since 2013. They are also calling for an investigation into the misuse of federal Medicaid funds by the agency. “Many allegations relating to staff abuses, patient neglect, sexual assaults and even patient deaths have been reported, yet the Center consistently fails to act in an appropriate manner and continues to operate without any necessary additional oversight or scrutiny,” said the Congressmembers in the letter.
The request for an investigation follows in the wake of recent revelations that the NY Office of People with Developmental Disabilities has been placing convicted sex offenders in group homes with disabled adults, including non-verbal adults with autism.
The Autism Action Network applauds Rep. Zeldin and his colleagues who signed the letter, Reps. Peter King (R, NY-2), Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) and Tom Reed (R, NY-23), and we would like other members of the House of Representatives to join the call for an investigation. Their letter can be read here: https://zeldin.house.gov/sites/zeldin.house.gov/files/Just... Center.pdf
Please click on the Take Action link to send a message to your member of the House asking him or her to join in on the call for an investigation into the multiple failures of the Justice Center to protect people with autism and developmental disabilites under their care.
The Justice Center was created in 2013 in response to the documented failures and scandals that plagued the Commission on Quality of Care. But the Justice Center has done no better.
“The NYS Justice Center is ensuring that staggering numbers of sexual assault crimes and deaths of children and adults with disabilities are covered-up internally and never prosecuted,” said Michael Carey, New York’s leading advocating for the civil rights of disabled people in residential facilities. “This corrupt agency is not protecting people with special needs, but instead obstructing justice by purposefully keeping most reported crimes from the local police and county district attorneys.”
Prosecution of crimes committed against residents of facilities for people with developmental disabilities ground to a halt in early 2017 following multiple court decisions finding that the Justice Center had no authority under the NY Constitution to prosecute crimes. Legislation requiring reporting alleged crimes committed in residential facilities to the police for investigation and possible prosecution by district attorneys, the standard law enforcement procedure for every other New York resident, has gone nowhere in Albany despite veto-proof numbers of co-sponsors in both houses.
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