Governor signs Jonathan's Law

Following the death of 13-year-old Jonathan Carey in March, his parents, Michael and Lisa Carey of Glenmont, have fought hard to bring reform to a system they believed failed their son, who had autism.

Their advocacy was rewarded by a phone call from Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Saturday, May 5.

He called me personally at 7:30 on Saturday night, said Michael Carey. "He wanted us to be the first to know he signed Jonathan's Law."

The law ensures that parents and guardians have access to records pertaining to allegations and investigations of mistreatment of children in residential care facilities. "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," said Spitzer. "This bill allows them to better monitor the care their children receive."

The Careys began their fight for the new legislation prior to their son's death.

They have charged that their son was abused while a resident of the Anderson School in Dutchess County. Following an investigation by several state agencies, determinations of the extent of the alleged abuse were inconclusive. The Careys were denied the records of those state investigations on which the findings were based. After the alleged abuse occurred at the Anderson School, the Careys pulled Jonathan out, eventually enrolling him in the O.D. Heck Facility in Schenectady.

Jonathan Carey died while being transported by two employees of O.D. Heck when he was allegedly restrained inappropriately while riding in the backseat of a van traveling on Central Avenue in Colonie on Thursday, Feb. 15.

"I know Jonathan's Law is going to make a tremendous impact on many people's lives," said Michael Carey. "This is going to be a really great starting point for reform to the mental health care system."

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