DAA News Network

USA: Cruel but usual treatment at New York residential institutions

Posted 13/6-11 at 16.45

In March, 2011, the New York Times published a devastating exposé of conditions in the state's residential institutions for disabled people. Now they have written a related story about the 2007 death of 13-year-old disabled boy, Jonathan Cary. He was slowly asphyxiated in the back of a van by an employee of the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center near Albany. A fellow worker watched from the driver's seat, but did not intervene.

Jonathan Carey photo of a smiling boy

The man convicted of Jonathan's manslaughter had a criminal conviction for selling drugs and had worked 15 days without a break. The driver had been fired from four different private providers of services for people with learning difficulties before the state hired him.

Unfortunately, such circumstances seem to be common throughout the state's system. According to the Times, those managing the homes, ‘...have tolerated physical and psychological abuse, knowingly hired unqualified workers, ignored complaints by whistle-blowers and failed to credibly investigate cases of abuse and neglect...'.

Despite 40 years of trying to end institutional care, officials have argued that they need a place to house the most frail or physically unruly residents. The Times points out there is also big money at stake. $1.8m per year is provided by the federal and state government for each of the 1300 residents housed in the New York's nine large institutions for people with learning difficulties

The present state administration forced the removal of the director of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities, has said it is moving to further de-emphasize institutional care and will close some of the nine facilities.


The original report is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/nyregion/13homes.html




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