Congress members: Justice Center doesn’t properly investigate abuse cases against disabled

Local News

Four U.S. Congress members are calling into question investigations by the state’s Justice Center.

The center is in charge of looking into reports of mistreatment of people with disabilities in New York. In a letter, Reps. Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin and Peter King say the agency isn’t doing its job.

“Since its inception in 2013, the Center has failed to take meaningful steps to address systematic failures, and as such, we request the Department of Justice investigate due process violations and other criminal offenses that the Center has not addressed,” the lawmakers write.

They continue, “Further, it is our understanding that the center has frequently neglected to report instances of ongoing abuse to law enforcement.”

Citing a New York Times report, the lawmakers say only five percent of reported abuse cases are ever reported to law enforcement.

“Instead of referring the overwhelming majority of cases to law enforcement officials, the Center allowed facilities to conduct internal reviews, which often times included disciplinary actions unbefitting of the allegations.”

The representatives are now calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the center.

News 8 has reached out to the Justice Center, but hasn’t heard back yet.

In response to the leader, a Justice Center spokesperson said: “The letter to the Justice Department shamefully politicizes issues relating to some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and relies on numerous false claims and inaccuracies regarding the Justice Center’s operations.  After a thorough investigation and review, the Justice Center pursues criminal charges in those cases where the evidence supports further action.  In addition, District Attorneys across the state are notified of every single abuse and neglect case that is reported to the Justice Center and are free to pursue charges as they see fit.  The agency is committed to transparency and welcomes any inquiry.”

Read the full letter here

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