Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seeking to strengthen the state’s chronically weak response to abuse of disabled people who live in publicly financed homes, plans this week to propose creating an agency dedicated to investigating problems with the care of nearly one million vulnerable New Yorkers.
The new law enforcement and oversight agency would monitor those in state or private care who have developmental disabilities like autism or cerebral palsy, mental illnesses including schizophrenia, and other conditions, among them traumatic brain injuries, that put them at risk. The agency would employ a special prosecutor and would be granted subpoena power and the authority to convene grand juries, according to a draft plan obtained by The New York Times.
The administration is also proposing tougher laws to punish those who abuse people with developmental or other cognitive disabilities. And Mr. Cuomo would, for the first time, expand the reach of the state’s Freedom of Information Law by requiring the thousands of nonprofit organizations that house the bulk of those in state care to make abuse and neglect records public.
“I think it raises the bar significantly on the degree to which states address the issue of abuse and neglect across all disabled populations,” said Nancy Thaler, the executive director of a national association of state agencies that serve developmentally disabled people. Ms. Thaler, who was briefed on the plan, called it “unprecedented in breadth and scope.”
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Cuomo Seeking New Agency to Police Care of Disabled