Special Needs Reform Letter
June 4, 2012

Honorable Sheldon Silver, Speaker
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Bldg. - Room 932
Albany, New York

Dear Speaker Silver:

The Governor's proposed "Protection of People with Special Needs Act" has rightly focused public attention on the need to reform the system of delivering residential and related services to people with disabilities.

The Governor is shining a bright light on the abuse and neglect that occurs in dark shadows behind closed doors. He rightly says that justice delayed is justice denied for people with disabilities.

The public is cynical because so many past "reforms" made change but not progress for people with disabilities. So we need to be sure that the changes we now make are indeed reform.

While the Governor's proposal provides a good framework for discussion, I respectfully suggest that any reform plan should be measured against the principles set forth and amplified in the attached analysis.

I am sure that working together the Executive and Legislative Branches can produce a plan that assures families that when they entrust their loved ones for care, their loved ones will be safe and not subject to abuse or neglect. I am confident that we can create a system of caring for people with disabilities that recognizes them as people and preserves their dignity.

Very truly yours,
Thomas J. Abinanti