Justice Center Issues 5 Year Report, , Gives Interview to Review Progress & Challenges

NYAPRS Note: New York’s Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs recently released a 5 year self-review of the agency’s progress. The agency was created “to support and protect the health, safety, and dignity of all people with special needs and disabilities through advocacy of their civil rights, prevention of mistreatment, and investigation of all allegations of abuse and neglect so that appropriate actions are taken.’

You can see the full report at https://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Justice%20Center%20Five-Year%20Progress%20Report_1.pdf and a news release from the Center below.

You can also see an interview Capital Tonight’s Liz Benjamin conducted with recently appointed Justice Center executive director Denise Miranda last week at http://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/buffalo/capital-tonight-interviews/2018/07/19/miranda-on-nys-justice-center.

The Center has continued to be viewed in a very controversial light; as an example, see Monday’s Albany Times Union article at https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/5-years-in-critics-say-NY-agency-offers-little-13098350.php

For my part, I am a member of the Justice Center’s Advisory Board who has been very impressed with Ms. Miranda’s commitment to both improve performance, understanding and transparency around the Center’s efforts. Please feel free to contact me at harveyr@nyaprs.org with your own reactions.

Miranda: An­niversary Of NYS Justice Center

By Capital Tonight Staff  |  July 19, 2018 @5:09 PM

The New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs has been operating for five years now.

The goal is to stop the abuse of people with disabilities who are in state care, something that can be a challenge because the victims may not be able to speak for themselves.

And before the Justice Center was created, complaints were often handled by the very organization accused of wrongdoing.

The Center's leaders say it has been very effective over the past five years, investigating 46 thousand complaints and removing 450 workers who abused patients.

But it's also run into some issues in court over how much legal authority the center has.

Talking more about the five year progress report is Justice Center executive director Denise Miranda.


Justice Center Marks 5-Year Anniversary, Releases Progress Report

Delmar, NY – The NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Executive Director Denise M. Miranda is marking the 5-year anniversary of the agency by releasing a comprehensive 5-year progress report.

In the time since the Justice Center’s inception, the agency has investigated 46,000 cases of abuse and neglect, removed from the workforce 450 people found to have committed the most egregious acts of abuse and neglect, run 439,000 criminal background checks resulting in 1,450 rejections from employment, trained 3,300 investigators on the intricacies of cases involving vulnerable populations, helped 8,000 individuals and families navigate the investigation process, and issued numerous abuse prevention tools for the workforce and provider agencies. Members of the workforce are held to the highest standards in the nation.  They are required to sign the State’s Code of Conduct annually, and are also required by law to report all suspected abuse or neglect, the legal definitions of which have been standardized across all care settings. Disciplinary reviews and outcomes have become more standardized. 

The Justice Center also conducts systemic reviews to identify problems and potential risks to the health, safety, and welfare of people receiving services. The agency continues to develop and promote strategic prevention initiatives. These efforts have included guidance, training, and resources to help individuals, family members, and staff to take a proactive approach to creating safe, supportive abuse-free environments. Materials include self-assessments, best practices, and toolkits. The goal: to prevent abuse and neglect before it happens.

“The creation of the Justice Center remains historic,” said Executive Director Miranda.  “It is the only agency of its kind in the nation.  There is no disputing New Yorkers with special needs are safer today than ever before.”

"For five years, the Justice Center has played a key role in protecting and supporting New Yorkers with special needs and disabilities," said State Senator Rob Ortt. "As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, I believe it is critical that our state takes action to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and providing legal support from abuse and neglect is a great method of doing so."

"As Chair of the Assembly Mental Hygiene Committee, the health and safety of people with disabilities is my top priority,” said Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther. “I'd like to thank Executive Director Denise Miranda for her steadfast dedication."

“The Justice Center has placed a needed spotlight on the prevention of abuse and neglect and the protection of individuals with special needs; individuals who have the right to be treated with the utmost respect for their safety, dignity, and well-being. Simultaneously, the critical impact and importance of the dedicated staff who provide 24-hour care and treatment has been acknowledged and prioritized” said William Gettman, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Rivers Family of Services.

Executive Director of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals Joseph Macbeth said: “Over the course of these five years, the NADSP has partnered with the Justice Center and held dozens of focus groups with hundreds of the dedicated men and women who do this challenging work to share information and learn from their experiences. In looking back, I strongly believe that the Justice Center is better equipped and more balanced because of their time spent listening to direct care workers. I also believe that people with special needs are safer as a result.”

StateWide Advocacy Network (SWAN) Steering Committee Member Patrick Curran said: “As volunteer organizations of families and friends of the disabled, we look forward to continuing to work with the Justice Center so that they can be as efficient and effective as possible, helping them understand and serve this very unique group of individuals and the many hard-working, compassionate direct care workers on whom they depend to meet their complex and demanding needs.”

Going forward, the Justice Center will continue to maintain the nation’s highest standards of health, safety, and dignity, and support the dedicated men and women who provide services so people with special needs can live self-directed and fulfilling lives free from abuse and neglect.

View the report by clicking here.

About the Justice Center

The Justice Center operates a toll-free hotline for people to report allegations of abuse, neglect, and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects an act of abuse or neglect has been committed can make a report. Because the Justice Center is not a first responder, callers are directed to call 9-1-1 if there is an emergency that requires an immediate medical or police response.

The Justice Center has authority to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect in covered facilities and programs, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct, and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local District Attorneys to prosecute criminal offenses involving allegations of abuse or neglect. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all cases of abuse and neglect that occur in their jurisdiction.

Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives, and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings, and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.