Gov. Christie: This Law Will Prevent Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation Of People With Disabilities

Transcript:

Governor Christie: Stephen Komninos was a young man with a developmental disability who transitioned into a group home in New Jersey more than a decade ago. Tragically, he passed away there at the age of only 22. His family, naturally, is devastated. Today, I’m signing the bill named after him, taking action to ensure that other families do not have to endure the pain that his family continues to endure today. The law will further strengthen protections for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families by requiring more state oversight and consistent supervision of community based residential programs. This new law will, we hope, prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities, establishing, appropriately, serious criminal penalties and mandating drug testing of each and every staff member. This bipartisan effort balances the most effective, efficient protections with the interest of confidentiality and flexibility in a unbiased process of investigating potential abuses. I’m proud to be a part of strengthening our commitment to protecting people with developmental disabilities while giving their families a greater say, and I hope along with that, a greater peace of mind for the wellbeing of their loved ones. This is never easy, the care of folks with developmental disabilities is a challenge and we honor those people who commit their lives to providing that care and so I don’t want anybody in the community that provides this care to believe that what this bill represents is an indictment of them, it doesn’t. They are folks who care deeply about the people that they care for and have made part of their career each and every day. This is to make sure that only the good ones get to do it. This is the way government is supposed to work at its best. It is always awful to experience the loss of any life and so this does not remedy that, but hopefully what it does is what I said earlier, which is to prevent any other parents from having to go through the pain of that loss in the way that this family did. And if we do that that won’t ever justify the loss of Stephen’s life, but what it will do, I think, is to give all of us a sense of pride that we were involved in the effort to make sure that another family didn’t suffer the same way.

 

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Brian Murray
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