Lack of Reporting System Makes Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Easy Victims for Criminals

Oct 18, 2011, 17:13 ET from Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The recent discovery of four adults with intellectual disabilities chained and starving in a Philadelphia basement sparked national headlines highlighting the potential for abuse of people with disabilities, prompting the question, "Now that Pennsylvania has an Adult Protective Services law (Act 70 of 2010) what more needs to be done to operationalize a system that will help stop this kind of horrific abuse and suffering?" Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is far behind the national curve on this issue. Until the General Assembly acted last October, Pennsylvania was one of only five states without an adult protective services law. While the Commonwealth is moving in the right direction, advocates across the state are demanding that efforts to implement the law be accelerated.

"It took seven years to finally get an adult protective services bill signed into law in October 2010," says Judy Banks, Deputy Director at Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. "Shockingly, absolutely no funding has been designated to fund a protective services system which would include a hotline to report abuse, and workers trained to investigate reports of abuse and get people to safety."

Numerous cases of abuse and neglect take place every year in Pennsylvania, resulting in the suffering and sometimes death of people with disabilities, yet there is currently no system in place to report and stop the abuse. In recent years, there have been many shocking cases of abuse in the Commonwealth, including a young woman with intellectual disabilities who was found starving and locked in a basement with her deceased sister. Another woman with multiple sclerosis was being raped by her husband and his friends; and two brothers with disabilities were routinely beaten into submission by their emotionally disturbed and abusive mother – and no one knew what to do or where to call.

The organizations listed below jointly implore Governor Corbett to include start up funding for Adult Protective Services and in the interim to act quickly to get a hotline in place, and provide staffing to investigate abuse. Pennsylvanians with disabilities will continue to be victimized, suffer and die needlessly and be the targets of criminal activity until we act to stop it.

Judy Banks
Audrey Coccia
Jeanne Downey
Nancy Murray
Disability Rights Network
Vision for Equality
The ARC of PA
Sue Walther
Sherie Lammers
William R. Schultz
Mental Health Association
National MS Society
United Cerebral Palsy of PA
Oscar Drummond
Barbara Nattile
Lynn Keltz
Self Advocates United as 1
Phila Parent Support Groups
PA Mental Health Consumers' Assoc

SOURCE Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania