Making a Difference for People with Special Needs
The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center) was established in 2013 by the Protection of People with Special Needs Act. The agency was created to restore public trust in the institutions and individuals charged with caring for vulnerable populations by protecting the health, safety, and dignity of all people with special needs.
The Justice Center has jurisdiction over more than 1,000,000 individuals receiving services across six State Oversight Agencies. The agency operates a toll-free hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for receiving reports of allegations of abuse and neglect. The Justice Center is authorized to investigate these reports and pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct. The agency's Special Prosecutor/Inspector General works with local district attorneys who prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center also issues recommendations for corrective actions.
In addition, the agency provides support services for individuals and guardians as well as issues abuse prevention materials statewide. The Justice Center Advisory Council aids the agency in developing policies, programs and regulations.
By creating the Justice Center, New York State overhauled a system that allowed abusers to commit bad acts, to move from facility to facility, and to abuse and neglect vulnerable people time and time again. Since 2013, nearly 900 people have been barred from the service system and more than 2.5 million Staff Exclusion List checks have been completed.
Without the changes ushered in with the creation of the Justice Center, countless individuals would be able to work in the service system and continue acts of abuse. We create a safer environment for vulnerable New Yorkers.
The Justice Center has authority to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect in covered facilities and programs, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct, and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General collaborates with local District Attorneys to prosecute criminal offenses involving allegations of abuse or neglect.
Justice Center advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives, and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings, and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.
In collaboration with state oversight agencies and its Advisory Council, the Justice Center identifies and develops strategic prevention initiatives for distribution statewide. These efforts have included guidance documents, tools, and training for staff and other stakeholders to enable them to take a proactive approach to creating safe, supportive, abuse-free environments.