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Safety of vulnerable individuals Action NEEDED

IMPORTANT LEGISLATION: START CALLING ASAP and keep it up!

As you may know, the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs is a newly created New York State agency charged with protecting the health, safety, and dignity of people with special needs and disabilities through advocacy of their civil rights, prevention of mistreatment, and investigation of all allegations of abuse and neglect.

In the course of Justice Center investigations, it is sometimes necessary to interview people with special needs, whether as victims or as witnesses. In many cases, such interviews may be traumatic or even harmful if not handled appropriately.

Individuals being questioned might:

  • feel intimidated and become extremely upset;
  • might respond with inappropriate behavior;
  • might not comprehend the issues;
  • might not be able to communicate clearly, and/or
  • might be suggestible, eager to please the investigator, and thus give inaccurate responses, falsely incriminating themselves or others
    A Bill Has Been Introduced to Remedy This Problem!

The intent of the bill is to establish procedures to protect vulnerable people. The bill would require the Justice Center to determine from clinical and behavioral information whether any safeguards or accommodations might be necessary in interviewing a vulnerable person. For example, the person might have cognitive or communication disabilities and might therefore require a personal representative, such as a guardian, to be present. Or the person might panic in a closed room with a stranger and might require a different type of setting.

Please Make These Calls to support this vital legislation — Call NYS legislators. Tell them: enact Senate bill 7232/Assembly bill 9605 to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals being interviewed by the Justice Center.

CALL THE FOLLOWING:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (518)-455-3791

Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos (518)-455-3171

Co-Majority Leader Klein (518)-455-3595

Your own Senator and Assemblymember.

Senators see: http://www.nysenate.gov/senators

Assemblymembers see: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/

On Thursday 6-12 and all of next week call their Albany number. On Friday 6-13 only, call their District Office. Tell your Senator and Assemblymember to call Senate Sponsor David Carlucci and Assembly sponsor Aileen Gunther to convey their support. Also ask them to call the leaders listed directly above.