Important Legislation That Will Protect Patients In Mental Hygiene Agencies Set To Be Voted On In Assembly

June 17, 2011

Assemblyman Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head) co-sponsored and is poised to vote for legislation (A.8324 and A.8325) that will protect the health and well-being of patients who are under the care of a mental hygiene agency and/or facility. This legislation was in response to a recent epidemic of cases of abuse at group homes involving residents with developmental disabilities.

“The uncovering of these terrible cases of abuse required a swift and stern response,” said Montesano. “The individuals at these group homes oftentimes do not understand these difficult situations and are powerless against their caretakers. These individuals rely upon the people who work at these group homes to protect and provide for them, and we, as a state, entrust them with a great amount of responsibility. When that trust is broken, we must make sure that all violations are fully investigated and proper punishment is doled out in accordance with the law and fundamental foundations of justice.”

The uncovering of these cases spawned a set of statewide public hearings that were held to examine the quality of care and safety measures in homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. As the ranking minority member on the Committee for Oversight, Analysis and Investigation, Assemblyman Montesano took testimony at the public hearing held in Farmingdale, NY.

Assembly Bill 8324 requires that abuse and neglect investigations continue if an employee subject to the investigation resigns prior to the investigation’s completion. Assembly Bill 8325 requires certain allegations of crimes at mental hygiene facilities be reported immediately, usually within 24 hours of a claim.

“These two pieces of legislation will ensure that certain incidents be reported in a timely fashion and that abuse investigations will be followed through to full completion,” said Montesano. “One of the major issues brought to my attention during these hearings was that it was a common practice in many facilities for an employee, under an abuse or neglect investigation, to resign without facing punishment for their actions and potentially going on to victimize more people at other facilities. Assembly Bill 8324 will end this practice and allow for the completion of a full investigation and justice to be served. Another issue raised was that facilities are allowed three working days to report a crime to law enforcement, which is too long of a window. Assembly Bill 8325 requires certain violent crimes be reported within 24 hours. I am hopeful these two pieces of legislation will help protect the residents of these facilities and make certain that those who commit crimes do not go unpunished.”