Lawmakers call for more transparency from state justice center

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s a center and a hotline set up specifically to help New Yorkers with disabilities, but now lawmakers are calling for more transparency.

There are still unanswered questions surrounding the New York State Justice Center. The center and a hotline were created to help protect and investigate abuse and neglect allegations toward those with disabilities in the state.

Jonathan Carey, 13, was killed in 2007 by his caregivers while he was a patient at the now closed O.D. Heck Center in Niskayuna. His father, Michael Carey, has been pushing for more protection for people with disabilities ever since.

However, he said the system is severely flawed.

“I’ve been fighting for eight years since Jonathan was killed to get immediate and direct 911 reporting of physical and sexual abuse; emergencies and deaths,” he said.

Instead, those calls go to the justice center. The center declined an on camera interview, but it said they either investigate or review investigations of all allegations of abuse and neglect.

But some lawmakers said they want more information on those investigations.

“I would certainly want to examine the 1,400 cases that were investigated,” Assembly member and Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee member Peter Lawrence said in a phone interview. “And I would like to see what the results of that investigation were. How many people were arrested? How many people were prosecuted?”

Despite not wanting to go on camera, the center said the vast majority of the nearly 4,000 deaths in its first year were of old age or other causes not related to abuse and neglect. But in a 16-month period, 65 abuse and neglect cases were flagged as “death involved.”

That figure has some lawmakers calling for answers.

“I know it’s a bit of a challenge interviewing some of these children, but based on their attitude, both to us and to [NEWS10], they’re definitely hiding something,” Assembly member and Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee member Michael Montesano said in a phone interview.

Both Lawrence and Montesano said they want more facts.

Lawmakers said the matter will be brought to the chair of the assembly’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee on Monday.

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