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