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Illinois State Representative Paul Evans (R-Highland) has introduced a law that would crackdown on the abuse of disabled people. His proposal would improve protocol of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigations. Features of the proposed law would amend the Abuse of Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act, requiring the OIG to refer evidence of crimes against an adult with disabilities to the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately upon finding evidence of such crimes.
Evans presented the proposed amendment before the Illinois House Human Services Committee hearing in Chicago on August 2nd.
“Today’s committee heard the heartbreaking stories of alleged abuse and how we can improve our care, services and reaction time to better serve and protect disabled adults,” said Rep. Evans.
Evans recently filed legislation demanding greater reporting standards when disabled adults are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. The bill also requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish minimum standards of training to further educate investigators on how to recognize signs of abuse.
“The recent investigative report by the Belleville News-Democrat exposing the Department of Human Services’ failure to follow-up on alleged reports of abuse of disabled adults demands an in-depth study by the General Assembly,” said Evans. “We must understand where the protective services failed and what steps we must take to ensure this breach of trust and safety never happens again.”
The Belleville News-Democrat found 53 deaths since 2003 that the DHS did not investigate or include in its annual report. The paper also reports that in most cases individuals were near death while being evaluated in the hospital and health care professionals speculated on the possibility of abuse or neglect, but the patient died before an investigation actually began.
Evans contends House Bill 6203 recognizes that in some instances, abusers intimidate and coerce individuals to refuse or withdraw consent for help in order to cover up the abuse. The bill helps determine the capacity of a victim to consent while respecting their privacy and at the same time protecting them from potential abusers.
The legislation also provides that upon the death of an adult with a disability, where a complaint of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation was made prior to the death, regardless of whether the report was substantiated or not, and regardless if consent was given for assessment, the Office of the Inspector General designated by the Department of Human Services shall immediately report the matter to law enforcement and the coroner.
Representative Evans and his wife Sandy are the parents of three children. Their oldest daughter was born with spina bifida and is now fully independent and attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.