In September, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will require the New York State Justice Center to adhere to safety precautions when it interviews “vulnerable individuals.” The center must create protocols and procedures for the process that will be implemented by March 2015. According to NYSARC, a nonprofit organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the bill was instigated by a series of events, particularly one that happened at the Sullivan County chapter of NYSARC. The bill had the support of a number of Long Island agencies and organizations that work with people with developmental disabilities.
The bill contains detailed instructions for the Justice Center’s safety procedures that include notifying parents or other guardians of interviews, clarifying that the interviews are voluntary, and reviewing the client’s clinical situation to ensure that the interview is conducted safely. Family members or guardians also must be appropriately involved in the interview. Advocates hope that the new law will help the Justice Center to move forward in its mission to protect people with special needs, NYSARC says.
Hallie Greene, a director at Rosicki, Rosicki & Associates, serves on the Board of Governors of NYSARC, Inc.