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 February 13, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker officially signed Nicky’s Law into law.

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

The Current Situation

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.

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

The Proposed Solution

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
(781) 891-6270 x106

Maura Sullivan

Director of Government Affairs
(781) 891-6270 x113

Nicky's Law News

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June 20, 2024

Leo’s Letter: Before the 193rd Legislative Session Ends, These Two Bills Need Your Support

As the 193rd legislative session winds down, there are two bills we hope to advance before the session ends. House Bill 4393, “An Act updating terminology and investigative practices related…
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TODAY: Call Your Representative in Support of Expanding Nicky’s Law (H4393)

Today's the day, advocates! We need your action in the form of calling your Representative's office in support of the House bill H4393, Expanding Nicky's Law. Our community has sent…
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June 18, 2024

This Thursday: Join Us for an Expanding Nicky’s Law/Dana’s Law Call In Day!

Attention Advocates for Expanding Nicky’s Law/Dana’s Law! Thank you for taking action last week on H4393. We sent over 500 letters to the legislature! In order to prioritize this legislation…
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June 7, 2024

Leo’s Letter: As the 193rd Session Draws to a Close, These Bills and Issues Need Your Support

In this week's video message, Executive Director Leo Sarkissian provides an overview of the priority bills and issues that need your support in these upcoming final months of the legislative…
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May 31, 2024

Act Now: Help Expand Nicky’s Law and Update Vital Protective Language by Taking Action with Your Representative Today!

The 193rd legislative session is approaching a critical stage where we need your help advocating for a bill to protect from harm some of our most vulnerable disabled persons.  House…
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May 16, 2024

Leo’s Letter: The Arc of Massachusetts Recognized with Trailblazer Award by Disability Law Center

Last week at its 45th anniversary celebration, the Disability Law Center (DLC) awarded The Arc of Massachusetts its Trailblazer Award. We are incredibly honored to receive this recognition of our…