A pretty disturbing story the leftist New York Times.
Nearly 40 years after New York emptied its scandal-ridden warehouses for the developmentally disabled, the far-flung network of small group homes that replaced them operates with scant oversight and few consequences for employees who abuse the vulnerable population.
A New York Times investigation over the past year has found widespread problems in the more than 2,000 state-run homes. In hundreds of cases reviewed by The Times, employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses, and in many cases, were simply transferred to other group homes run by the state.
And, despite a state law requiring that incidents in which a crime may have been committed be reported to law enforcement, such referrals are rare: State records show that of some 13,000 allegations of abuse in 2009 within state-operated and licensed homes, fewer than 5 percent were referred to law enforcement. The hundreds of files examined by The Times contained shocking examples of abuse of residents with conditions like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.
[…]The Times reviewed 399 disciplinary cases involving 233 state workers who were accused of one of seven serious offenses, including physical abuse and neglect, since 2008. In each of the cases examined, the agency had substantiated the charges, and the worker had been previously disciplined at least once.
In 25 percent of the cases involving physical, sexual or psychological abuse, the state employees were transferred to other homes.
The state initiated termination proceedings in 129 of the cases reviewed but succeeded in just 30 of them, in large part because the workers’ union, the Civil Service Employees Association, aggressively resisted firings in almost every case. A few employees resigned, even though the state sought only suspensions.
In the remainder of the cases, employees accused of abuse — whether beating the disabled, using racial slurs or neglecting their care — either were suspended, were fined or had their vacation time reduced.
[…]In some cases, not even criminal convictions are disqualifying. Henry Marrero, an employee at a group home in Utica, was convicted of beating a 99-year-old man while moonlighting at a nursing home — slapping the man three times in the face and once on the stomach. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was barred from participating in federally financed health care programs. But he kept his state job working with the developmentally disabled.
[…]The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the most powerful unions in Albany, makes no apologies for its vigorous defense of the group-home workers it represents.
But the union’s approach — contesting just about every charge leveled at a worker — has contributed to a system in which firings of even the most abusive employees are rare. Most disciplinary measures represent a compromise between management and the union, often reached at the urging of an arbitrator chosen by both sides.
This article really has to be read in full to be understood. Solid investigative work by the New York Times.