Assemblymember Anthony J. Brindisi (D-Utica) announced both the Assembly and Senate passed legislation to establish the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs to Prevent, Investigate and Prosecute Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable New Yorkers (A.10721). This includes the creation of a transparent system to help prevent, investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect through uniform standards and improved practices.
“It’s critically important to do whatever we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Brindisi. “There have been too many stories of abuse and neglect of our loved ones. This legislation will increase protections and help provide for the safety of the people with special needs, whose rights have all too often been overlooked.”
Under the legislation, the Justice Center will:
- establish a 24/7 hotline monitored and run by trained professionals;
- launch a comprehensive statewide database to track all reports of abuse and neglect, which will also be used to analyze and determine abuse patterns and trends to better prevent abuse in the future and improve training methods;
- create a statewide register of employees guilty of the most serious conduct, banning all future employment with people with disabilities or special needs; and
- establish a code of conduct with ethical standards that all individuals working with people with special needs must uphold.
Brindisi noted the legislation will also establish the Protection and Advocacy Agency to help individuals with disabilities and their families obtain support services, legal assistance and respond to concerns relating to their quality of care. And, according to Brindisi, it will increase the existing crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person to a class E felony punishable by up to three years in prison, and will put more power into prosecutors’ hands by creating a new misdemeanor punishable by up to one year behind bars.
“Families deserve some piece of mind when they rely on outside agencies to care for their loved ones,” Brindisi said. “The Justice Center will help provide that.”