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State’s new Justice Center makes Bethlehem its home

Michael Carey criticizes new agency as more of the same

— About 80 employees will man a 24/7 hotline in Delmar for reporting cases of neglect or abuse. Patricia Gunning, the former Chief of the Special Victims Unit with the Rockland County District Attorney’s office, was hired to be the agency’s special prosecutor. She will work with about 20 special investigators.

Carey said he believes the new agency has given the state too much power to police itself and has greatly increased the areas of state government that are internally investigated. He also feels people reporting cases will feel less inclined to call the police.

“Employees will remain in the system and get a slap on the wrist,” he said.

Wise said the Center is not a first response team, so those who feel immediate intervention should still call 911 or local law enforcement.

“We’re meant to be like an added level of security,” he said. “Our special prosecutor is meant to assist local district attorneys when needed.”

Wise said many times smaller counties don’t have the resources to take on bigger investigative cases and need help. Others may need assistance because they don’t have a background in cases regarding people with disabilities and are looking for someone with more expertise. He said they would also go back to review cases where a local district attorney opted not to prosecute, but Justice Center investigators feel charges are needed.

Carey said he feels new legislation means much more evidence is now needed to prove abuse is taking place. He also called the new center “a slap in the face of the true justice (he’s) been working on for years”

“I find it appalling that the Cuomo Administration has chosen to put the Justice Center a tenth of a mile down the road from the Jonathan Carey Foundation office, which is a daily reminder of how dangerous the mental health care field is in this state for the people who rely on it for care.”

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