The Abuse Registry (Nicky’s Law)

Nicky's Law / The Abuse Registry Bill

There is presently no system to track individuals whose act of abuse against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) has been substantiated. The proposed legislation Nicky's Law (H 4074/S 2367), also known as The Abuse Registry Bill, seeks to change that.

 

What is the current status of Nicky's Law? On October 17, 2019, Nicky's Law was unanimously passed by the Massachusetts State Senate.

The Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) screened 11,395 cases in the past year. In FY 2017, a total of 2,571 investigations were deemed necessary through DPPC screening.

In 2017, 1,478 abuse reports were referred to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office (“DA”). Only 102 of those referrals resulted in criminal charges (less than 10%).

The Current Situation

The Chan family, with Nicky (second from right), the namesake of the bill

In the last decade, the ratio of criminal charges to abuse case referrals have been in the range of 10%-15%. This real-life statistic meant that some other mechanism was needed to protect people with disabilities from caretakers who had committed substantiated incidents of abuse, but who had not been criminally charged or convicted.

The reality that someone can be substantiated for abuse as determined by the state agency responsible, namely the DPPC, but can work the following week, moth or year at another location with vulnerable individuals is simply wrong and against the public interest.

The Proposed Solution

Maura Sullivan, the Chans, Senator Michael Moore, the Joyces, and Leo Sarkissian

The solution: a “mandatory abuse registry” law. A bill filed by Senator Michael Moore and Representative Linda Campbell known as “Nicky’s Law” (similar to Dana’s Law filed last session by Senator O’Connor) initially targets caretakers funded through or working for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

The bills are filed as Senate 2367 and House 4074 (“An act to protect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from abuse”).

It is important to note that this bill is not a “criminal justice” bill. It is a protection against abuse and neglect and it is a way to restrict those who have been demonstrated to be abusive from working with vulnerable individuals. The DPPC reported rate of substantiation in 2018 was 15-17%. For sexual abuse cases, the reported rate from DPPC is 10-12%. The cases in which there are criminal charges are a subset of these cases. This bill does not make new recommendations in relation to the referrals to the DA’s or the courts.

Important Notes

The bill does require that the names of the staff persons (through state or private employment) be placed onto a registry against whom a substantiated finding of abuse of a person with I/DD has been issued by the DPPC. DDS and DDS funded providers would not be able to hire someone on that registry. The registry includes a comprehensive formal appeal process through the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA). Specifics on the registry and the level of abuse which rise to inclusion in the registry are left to regulation.

The bills filed this session have been negotiated with the Committee on Public Counsel Services to satisfy concerns on due process for those who are subject to the registry. The chart below demonstrates the gap closed by this legislation.

IMPORTANT NICKY'S LAW DOCUMENTS

Nicky's Law Fact Sheet

Due Process Outline for Nicky's Law

Presentation on Nicky's Law Updates and Testimonies

NICKY'S LAW CONTACTS

Leo Sarkissian
Executive Director
Sarkissian@arcmass.org
(781) 891-6270 x106

Maura Sullivan
Director of Government Affairs
Sullivan@arcmass.org
(781) 891-6270 x113

NICKY'S LAW COVERAGE

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