A BuzzFeed News investigation showed the vast state agency left people with disabilities vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Now lawmakers are promising to take a harder look — or to eliminate it altogether.
By Ben Hattem
The state agency tasked with protecting New Yorkers with disabilities failed to blacklist serial abusers, took almost a year to investigate numerous cases without documenting why, and blocked auditors from seeing more than 70% of crucial records, according to a scathing new report from the office of the State Comptroller.
BuzzFeed News reported last year that the agency, the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, often failed to prosecute abuse and neglect. The Center took more than two years to press charges against an employee of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan who beat a patient so badly that he broke several bones in the patient’s face — despite the fact that the entire episode was caught on the hospital’s security cameras. The new report from the Comptroller’s office adds to the criticism of the troubled agency, which is expected to be the subject of hearings in the New York State Assembly during the current legislative session.
In addition, a member of the Assembly is introducing legislation to eliminate the Justice Center entirely. “This agency is legalized obstruction of justice and it needs to be abolished,” said Thomas Abinanti, the legislator who is drafting the bill. Since BuzzFeed News’ reporting on the Justice Center last year, he said, “nothing has changed, there have been no improvements.”
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Source: BuzzFeed (via The Empire Report)