#LetterToTheEditor #YourVoice #SpotlightNews
I have lived in the Town of Bethlehem and Albany County for almost all of my life. My dad worked for General Electric and was transferred from working in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to working at the GE plastics plant in Selkirk in 1966. As a member of our community, I believe it is important that we individually and sometimes corporately speak out against injustices. Not that we criticize something alone because it is wrong, but that we bring it to light and offer genuine solutions so we can be part of bringing about great changes.
Most people in the area know our families story and how our oldest son Jonathan was killed while living at OD Heck Developmental Center in Schenectady. I can tell you first hand that tragedies can become great victories. I have learned much through the most difficult situation a parent could ever go through, losing a child, but I know Jonathan is safe in heaven. Jonathan’s Law, the Jonathan Carey Foundation and many other laws have come to pass since, so I can speak from a place of knowledge, good can come forth from very bad things and I look forward to seeing Jonathan again in heaven. Until then, there is work to do; there are gross injustices that are occurring against Jonathan’s friends and my friends -1,000,000 New Yorkers with disabilities.
In our own town directly across the street from the Delaware Plaza is a State agency called the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center). I can tell you for a fact that this facility is almost the exact opposite from its name, it receives close to 8,000 calls to its abuse hotline for the disabled every month and it receives between 11-13 death reports every day on average. The 911 call centers throughout New York State are being bypassed for people with disabilities and almost all criminal matters disappear internally; they are being covered-up. Sunday’s Time Union major piece exposed some of these horrors and deaths that are being covered-up;
“Five years after the Justice Center’s creation, criminal prosecution of staff whose behavior either directly or indirectly led to a resident’s death is still rare. Since 2013, the Justice Center said it has confirmed abuse or neglect in 140 deaths statewide, yet only two cases were prosecuted by local district attorneys.”
The State of New York through the Department of Corrections along with OPWDD is also placing sexual offenders with people with developmental disabilities which is illegal and obviously extremely dangerous. People with developmental disabilities in many cases are similar to children and must be protected from harm, not put at extreme risk of being sexually assaulted or raped within their residences and group homes. I have worked hard with Scott Ashes mom, Sharon to ensure a level 2 sex offender is never placed with her son, the Justice Center seemed not to care until I got the Governor’s office involved. Further research reveals a distinct pattern of the State of New York placing sex offenders in with our most vulnerable. This must be stopped now.
I am asking people to stand up for our most vulnerable. I am asking for people to get involved and do what God puts in your heart to do and I am asking for everyone to be extremely sensitive to people with disabilities and their families, they need our support and our love. I am asking for people that know anything to not be afraid to speak up, including those that work at the Justice Center that mean well. If people speak up and defend our most vulnerable, we without question, can make a huge difference, save lives and stop gross injustices.
— Michael Carey, Jonathan’s dad