Governor Spitzer Signs Morahan Legislation

Thomas P. Morahan

September 05, 2007

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities was invited by Governor Eliot Spitzer today to participate in a signing ceremony for "Jonathan’s Law," legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Morahan which grants the parents and guardians of disabled children and adults greater access to records related to their care while in state-operated residential mental hygiene facilities.

The law is the result of the efforts by Michael and Lisa Carey. The tragic death of their 13 year-old autistic son, Jonathan, raised awareness of the need to provide parents and guardians with timely information about incidents affecting the health and safety of their children in residential care facilities. Michael and Lisa Carey were unable to access records regarding their son’s care at a private school for developmentally disabled children in 2004. They have since become tireless advocates for changing the law governing the disclosure of such records.

The culmination of their efforts was Jonathan’s Law, which is a combination of two bills that expand access to records related to incidents and allegations involving individuals residing in residential mental hygiene facilities, including, in certain circumstances, records related to incidents that occurred prior to the enactment of these laws.

Click here to watch video coverage of "Jonathan's Law" bill-signing ceremony

"Jonathan's Law is an important reform which will impact families who entrust their loved ones to the care of a residential facility. This new law ensures that parents and guardians will be notified when there is evidence of abuse and/or mistreatment of their children, and that they will have access to any records or reports that pertain to their children with respect to allegations and investigations," said Senator Morahan.

"The health and safety of disabled New Yorkers, especially those living away from their families in residential care facilities, is critically important," said Governor Spitzer. "Jonathan’s Law will remove roadblocks that prevent families like the Careys from ensuring that their loved ones receive appropriate care. Families of disabled individuals owe the Michael and Lisa Carey a debt of gratitude for their tireless advocacy."

Michael and Lisa Carey said: "Jonathan’s Law is a great victory for every family in the State of New York with a developmentally disabled family member. Jonathan’s Law is a vital part of reform that is absolutely necessary to the current mental health care system. Jonathan’s Law is the beginning of much needed reform, to ensure the safety of thousands of developmentally disabled children and adults throughout the State of New York, who are extremely vulnerable."