Jonathan Carey was a 13-year-old non-verbal boy with autism. He died on the evening of February 15th, 2007 while on an outing with another child from the O.D. Heck Developmental Center in Schenectady, New York. Jonathan was improperly restrained by the health worker Edwin Tirado, 35; the driver of the van, Nadeem Mall, 32, the continued driving around Colonie to run errands instead of seeking medical attention for Jonathan. Both men were charged with second-degree manslaughter and have been convicted in his death.
Previous to this, Jonathan had been at a residential school, the Anderson School, in Dutchess County, New York. In September 2004, a year and eight months since his entrance there, “school staff did things like withholding meals because of poor behavior and covering his window so he couldn’t look out.” A report released by the New York State Inspector yesterday said that two state agencies had neglected to do their duties in investigating alleged abuses at the Anderson School, according to the Ithaca Journal:
Inspector General Joseph Fisch faulted the state Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for conducting a “shoddy child-abuse investigation, failing to fully address allegations that Jonathan (Carey) was neglected, inadequately fed and left to lie naked on a urine-soaked bed” while at the Anderson Center for Autism in Staatsburg. Further, the probe “did not adequately determine whether Jonathan experienced serious emotional injury.” [Fisch's investigation did not cover the circumstances of Jonathan's death.]
After Jonathan’s death, in March 5, 2007, Jonathan’s parents, Michael and Lisa Carey, testified before the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities in Albany, New York and proposed “Jonathan’s Law” which “calls for stiffer penalties for those who endanger the welfare of the disabled and will provide parents and guardians access to all records pertaining to their children.”
I’ve worried that my son might have to be placed in a residential placement and I’ve worried a lot about the kinds of abuses that Jonathan endured. Charlie can talk a little, but not enough to tell me if something happened—that he wasn’t being fed; that no one was changing the sheets on his bed. (And how he loves to look out of windows……) So far, we’ve done well with Charlie at home and I hope that he’ll live with us until he is an adult—-what happened to Jonathan makes it very clear to me that we have to start working now to ensure that staff are properly trained and supervised; that non-violent methods are used; that kids like Charlie and Jonathan are treated in ways that seek to understand why they might get upset, and with dignity and compassion,