Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Jersey's Institutional Death Traps?

Some very prominent people are saying some very shocking things about New Jersey's Institutions for people with developmental disabilities. I wonder if anyone is listening?

Ethan B. Ellis, an Adjunct Professor at the UMD/NJ School of Public Health and former Executive of the NJ Developmental Disabilities Council, wrote a blog post about New Jersey’s Death Traps. Elis states that in two years "there had been more than 2,000 incidents reported that involved broken bones or lacerations requiring sutures at New Lisbon. With a few more than 500 residents at the time, that’s an average of four apiece" in just two years. In the last two months of 2009, there were two "unexpected deaths" and Ellis suspects "foul play" is involvd. Ellis is advocating closing New Jerseys seven developmental centers.

If Prof. Ellis' word is not enough for you, Ralph Boyd an assistant attorney general for the state of New Jersey, submitted a damning report about New Lisbon in 2002. Boyd reported amazing abuse by the New Lisbon Staff including taking residents home to clean up dog waste, smearing glue on a resident's face requiring painful removal after it dried and hitting and slapping of residents. Not only were the staff abusing the residents, but Boyd's team found they also abused work time. Boyd's team caught over half a dozen staff sleeping while on duty. Staff seened to be able to do what they wanted without fear of reprisal. Even in nine cases of dcoumented severe abuse when removal was recommended, it never occured. The strictest punishment handed out was a 10 day suspension.

Lest one thinks that New Lisbon is the only place where such abuse is occuring or that this abuse is a thing of the past, yet another assistant attorney general, Loretta King, documented severe abuse at the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in August 2009.

To read about life on the inside of New Jersey's New Lisbon Institution, stop by Charles Carroll's Hard Candy Blog. Carroll was a resident of new Lisbon as a child in the 1950's.

There is some movement towards closing New Lisbon, which sounds like a step in the right direction. But the question remains....what about the other six New Jersey Developmental Centers?