The Times today with a great exposé of the rampant abuse that goes on at state-run facilities for the mentally disabled. Danny Hakim tells of humiliation, beatings, and death, at the hands of state employees.
Yet on a February afternoon in 2007, Jonathan, a skinny, autistic 13-year-old, was asphyxiated, slowly crushed to death in the back seat of a van by a state employee who had worked nearly 200 hours without a day off over 15 days. The employee, a ninth-grade dropout with a criminal conviction for selling marijuana, had been on duty during at least one previous episode of alleged abuse involving Jonathan.
“I could be a good king or a bad king,” he told the dying boy beneath him, according to court documents.
In the front seat of the van, the driver, another state worker at O. D. Heck, watched through the rear-view mirror but said little. He had been fired from four different private providers of services to the developmentally disabled before the state hired him to care for the same vulnerable population.
Kudos to Hakim and the Times. Yes, I have my frustrations with the paper (more in an upcoming post), and yes, I like blogs and blogging, but there’s no substitute for reporting like this. I hope everyone sees the value in news you actually pay for. Five bucks a week is a bargain.
Fron another section of the piece…
The Times asked the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities why Ms. Bishop and Mr. Morgese could not say what an assault was and why Ms. Maioriello’s supervisors had not forwarded her allegations to law enforcement.
The state disputed the framing of the question.
“Your characterization of these exchanges is not consistent with our understanding of the facts regarding those conversations,” an agency spokeswoman said, adding, “Without question, it is the agency policy that if a staff person hit an individual with a stick, law enforcement should be notified.”
The state was subsequently informed by The Times that a tape existed of the encounter, and shortly thereafter both Ms. Bishop and Mr. Morgese were removed from their positions. Ms. Bishop was reassigned to the central office, and Mr. Morgese was demoted and sent to a regional office.