Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Feds probing illegal strip searches of mentally disabled by CDHS

KUSA - A federal agency is examining actions of the Colorado Department of Human Services that date back to March 2015, when the DHS sanctioned a strip search of mentally disabled residents in their care.

Three reports, two by state agencies and one by an advocacy group, say CDHS performed what amounted to illegal strip searches of at least 50 people who live in their group homes and at a day program at Pueblo Regional Center.

One report says 62 residents were strip searched, another says 50 were fully examined and 12 either refused or received partial examinations.

Attorney Mari Newman, with Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, represents some of the people who were searched. She said what happened is a violation of their rights.

“This is one of the most outrageous abuses of a vulnerable population, people with mental disabilities who don’t have the legal capacity to consent to searches, and who said ‘no, we do not want to take off our clothes, we do not want to show you our naked bodies and genitals,’” Newman told 9Wants To Know. “There is no legitimate justification for the searches being done, how they were done and when they were done.”

The searches were conducted at the end of March 2015 and immediately the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment received ten complaints from guardians and residents of Pueblo Regional Center.

CDPHE investigated and found the DHS “failed to ensure individuals’ rights to personal privacy, dignity and respect. The DHS also failed to allow the individuals or their guardians the opportunity to give informed consent to inspections of their bodies.”

The CDPHE report went on to say, “body inspections were completed by DHS governmental employees without the persons served [by PRC] being adequately informed about the purpose of the inspection, what it would entail, and without obtaining informed consent from either the individuals or their appointed guardians.”

CDPHE found the searches caused significant distress to some of the people. In addition, 40 people affected were incompetent to make their own decisions and had a legal guardian appointed by the court.

“Yet no guardians were contacted to give consent to the inspections, nor were any guardians informed within 24 hours of the suspected abuse,” stated one of the CDPHE reports. (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Feds probing illegal strip searches of mentally disabled by CDHS


Betty said...

Those responsible, from management to the employees involved, should be fired and charged with abuse.

Mike said...

This is outrageous and I hope everyone involved will be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

"No guardians were contacted to give consent...." Guardians? What about the people themselves? Don't they have a right to say no?

Melanie said...

What society does to its vulnerable when we think no one is looking puts human beings low on the list of real intelligence and empathy.