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'Jonathan's Law' Guarantees More Openness At Facilities
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 7, 2007

ALBANY, NEW YORK--Governor Eliot Spitzer signed a measure Sunday that will give parents and guardians of children at state-run institutions access to child abuse investigation files and medical history records.

"Jonathan's Law" would also require facility officials to notify parents and guardians within 24 hours of a report of abuse and neglect. Additionally, officials must meet with parents or guardians and explain what action was taken in response to each report.

"It is critical that parents and guardians of children housed in state facilities for the treatment of developmental disabilities and mental illness have access to records related to abuse allegations and other incidents," Spitzer said in a prepared statement. "This bill allows them to better monitor the care their children receive."

The legislation is named for 13-year-old Jonathan Carey, who had autism and could not talk. Investigators say Jonathan died on February 15 of this year after one or two employees of the state-run Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center restrained him in the back of a van. After Jonathan stopped breathing, the two staffers spent the next 90 minutes shopping and running errands instead of administering CPR, calling for help, or taking the teen to an emergency room.

Police have arrested Edwin Tirado Jr., 35, and Nadeem Mall, 32, and charged them with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the case. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Jonathan's parents, Michael and Lisa Carey, had already been pushing for parents to have greater access to information about their children's treatment at residential facilities. In 2004, they pulled Jonathan out of the privately run Anderson School, claiming he was abused and neglected by staff there. They sued that facility, and two years ago started their campaign for more transparency of staff and incident records.

"It's going to start to really clean up a lot of the things that need to be cleaned up," Michael Carey told the Times-Union.

"Jonathan's Law Signed" (Governor Spitzer's Office)
"Shining a light on abuse" (Times-Union)
"Editorial: Inform parents" (Democrat & Chronicle)
"Text of 'Jonathan's Law'" (State of New York Legislature)

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