Association of Prosecuting AttorneysMay 10, 2012
New York Governor Proposes New Agency to Protect Disabled
ALBANY (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday proposed the creation of a new state agency to better protect about a million New Yorkers with disabilities and special needs under state-funded care. The administration offered legislation that would establish a new special prosecutor and inspector general, with more than 400 staff, to oversee six state agencies and their contractors. The bill would create a single point for reporting and screening abuse allegations for those in residential care and day programs. It would have a hotline, statewide incident database and a list of employees banned from working with the disabled because of abusive behavior. "As a starting point, what every person who is in a human service facility in this state deserves, while we're striving for the best, is a threshold," Cuomo told a room packed with disabled people and advocates who gave him a standing ovation. "They deserve to be safe. They deserve human dignity," he said. "They deserve to be treated fairly, free from abuse, be it physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse. These are people who are the most vulnerable New Yorkers amongst us. And they are in the state's care." There were more than 10,000 alleged abuse reports last year, according to the governor's office. With the new agency, county prosecutors would continue to have authority to charge abusers, while an inspector general could also apply other sanctions. The proposed agency is expected to cost about $50 million a year to operate.