The Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Chaired by Senator Tom Morahan (R-C, New City) will hold a public hearing on Monday, March 5, 2007, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 13 year old Jonathan Carey. The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. In Hearing Room A of the Legislative Office Building in Albany.
The public hearing will examine a broad range of issues related to the care of individuals with mental disabilities including the use of restraints, training in the use of such restraints, and the availability of confidential medical and investigative records to parents and guardians.
Witnesses scheduled expected to testify at the hearing include:
> Jonathan’s parents, Mike and Lisa Carey;
> a representative for the Commissioner of OMRDD;
> Marc Brandt, Executive Director of NYS Association for Retarded Children;
> George Suess CEO of the Delaware Co. ARC, an expert in nonphysical restraint;
> Bill Bunter, a Long Island man who was denied access to records related to the alleged abuse of his adult child in an OMRDD facility;
> Jeff Wise, President of the NYS Rehabilitation Association;
> Vito Albanese, parent of Billy Albanese, who suffered abuse and neglect at a mental health facility in New Jersey. Vito Albanese advocated for "Billy's Law" in 2005, which strengthened the oversight, control and accountability of the placement of developmentally disabled New York State children in out-of-state programs and facilities.
"This hearing will help to show us how and why the system may have failed Jonathan and what steps we can take to change our laws to protect people like Jonathan who depend on the care of others," Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. "The Senate is going to do everything we can to enact new laws to protect people who cannot protect themselves so a tragedy like this will not this happen to another family."
"We want to determine and assess the adequacy of the staff training provided by OMRDD for personnel who care for children with developmental disabilities, as well as how children who exhibit behavioral episodes are treated," said Senator Morahan. "Parents and guardians must be reassured that agency staff are properly supervised and monitored, and that children placed in the care of a state-approved facility are safe and being treated properly."
Jonathan Carey, an autistic teen who lived at the state-run O.D. Heck Development Center in Niskayuna, died last month. Police said he died after a care worker improperly restrained him in the back of a van. Questions have also been raised over possible mistreatment of Jonathan at a private school for autistic children in Dutchess County.