Report details major issues in NY institutions

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A graphic depiction of the outline of the shape of New York fill with portions of New York State flag.

New York

In the latest *article in its “Abused and Used” series, the New York Times documents a range of abuses in the state’s nine institutions for people with developmental disabilities.

The article details a system where employees at the institutions, as well as state inspectors, are routinely hired despite having criminal backgrounds. In many cases, these employees are rehired, despite having abused patients in other institutions, or in the institutions from which they were previously dismissed.

“Those who run them 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,” the article states.

As a result, the system has create a culture which discourages accountability, according to the article.

“When I first started working there, I was told, ‘Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut and you’ll do just fine here,’ ” said Mary Maioriello, a former employee at the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center near Albany, in the article. “It was kind of like a code that you just didn’t turn anything in. A word that they used a lot was a ‘snitch.’ That’s what it felt like to me, like I was in some kind of gang or cult.”

The state’s nine institutions house about 1,300 people with disabilities. It costs, on average, two and a half times more to house people in these institutional settings than to house them in the state’s group homes, which house more than 135,000 individuals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has called for further deinstitutionalization efforts, recently fired the head of the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. However, the center, a large recipient of federal funds is currently the subject of a federal audit.

In March, the New York Times published an extensive report detailing abuses in New York’s state-run group homes.

The Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities is funded, in part, by the federally funded protection and advocacy system and is a member of the National Disability Rights Network.

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www.disabilityisnatural.com/images/PDF/pfl09.pdf

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