Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Thanks to Dr. Nora Baladerain  (and Anne Kincaid) of The Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute for  their ongoing abuse newsfeed.  Their focus is on "people with disabilities across the life span, any type of disability and any type of maltreatment, abuse, crime or, articles regarding law enforcement issues and individuals with disabilities".

These are selected headlines across the nation during June, End Torture Month:

Lawsuit Alleges Student at Anchorage Charter School Had Tape Put over Her Mouth

Man Who Stole Electronic Wheelchair from Elderly Man Faces 40 Years to Life if Convicted

Sheriff Recommends Charges for Group Homes Accused of Abuse

Lawsuit Says 13-Year-old Boy with Autism Was Sexually Assaulted at School

Man Convicted of Raping Disabled Woman

Man Accused of Stealing Money from Blind Victim

Former Developmental Center Aide Sentenced for Abuse

Peabody Group Home Worker Charged with Assault on Disabled Resident

Caregiver Charged with Attacking Disabled Client

More News can be found at: http://www.disabilityandabuse.org/newsfeed/contents.htm

Monday, June 29, 2015


We continue our reports of abuse and neglect at State Developmental Centers.

Glossy Mission Statements honestly aligned with procedures and practices is a good thing.  Well paid bureaucrats who compose these missives may or may not have that in mind.  For example, consider this one from Porterville Developmental Center: “ The mission of PDC is to provide personalized support and treatment programs to maximize the potential of the individual to achieve his/her preferred future, be responsive to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve, and build partnerships with our stakeholders”.  That’s all well and good.

But they left out the part about cockroaches.

We continue to share the horrific stories of adults with developmental disabilities residing in State Centers described in over 800 citations disclosed by the California  Department of Public Health.  The citation of 4/10/14 reads in part that “the facility failed to ensure the governing body exercised direction and developed a plan addressing cockroach infestation and the presence of rodents….” 

This was not some single and tiny dropping of rat scat.  It was an all out invasion. The citation goes on to describe the discovery, on  10/14/13 at 330 PM, of cockroach and rodent droppings in the central kitchen.  More graphically:’ live and dead cockroaches, cast skins, egg capsules and droppings” were found.  To be clear, the filth was not confined to some far corner of the kitchen at all.  In fact, a food mixer contained decomposing bodies and cockroach feces.  A food preparation counter was the habitat for three apparently live cockroaches, and a dead cockroach was found in a mixing dish.  And the details of kitchen inhabitants and their feces go on. 

Would this be tolerated at your favorite restaurant or community hospital?  This place is their home.  Noble mission statements juxtaposed against these stark realities highlight the challenge of contemporary disability justice where propaganda reins.          

Sunday, June 28, 2015


As June winds down, we again observe 6/26, End of Torture  Day, with another story.  These tales are from the over 800 incidents reluctantly divulged by our State Department of Health. This story is out of Cathedral City, California.

From the  CA.GOV website: “Cathedral City reflects a unique balance among small-town atmosphere, big-city conveniences and desert resort living”.  This DDS homage to the city,  sounds like a prelude to an ad for Embassy Suites.

Located amidst that unique balance, The Canyon Springs Intermediate Care Facility houses some 50 adults with developmental disabilities.  CA.GOV states that “The highly structured program provided by Canyon Springs is intended to help the residents improve their abilities and personal conduct”.

Maybe, but what about the conduct of facility staff?

On October 19, 2013,  Psychiatric Technician B choked a client while in a facility observation room.  Three days later, the incident was reported by onlooker, Psychiatric Technician A. It was not the only incident of that horrific year. According to the CA.GOV Health Facilities Consumer Information System (HFCIS) website there were 136 other incidents reported in 2013.  Among the confirmed incidents were reported:

Intake Received Date:
Intake ID:
Allegation Category:
Resident/Patient/Client Abuse
Sub Categories:
Employee to Resident
Investigation Finding:

And unconfirmed incidents:

Intake Received Date:
Intake ID:
Allegation Category:
Resident/Patient/Client Abuse
Sub Categories:
Investigation Finding:

With that many incidents, one might be tempted to call Canyon Springs a lost cause.  Not our DDS, long committed to practices of institutional reform.  And reform Canyon Springs did in 2014: with a "mere" 74 Facility Self-Reported Incidents.

Does the State reckon that these are acceptable levels of abuse and neglect, and the cost of doing disability

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Client One: Refections on End Torture Day


June 26th is End Torture Day*.

In February of this year, the State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the the California Department of Public Health must release records of violations at California Developmental Centers for people with developmental disabilities. The more than 800 citations report incidents of abuse, neglect, sexual assault  and a number of suspicious deaths. Torture.

This is the Story of Client One.

Staff A and Staff B came to the aid Client One.  There was no respiration and no heart rate. Staff B began mouth to mouth resuscitation and asked Staff A to help.  He did, but after ten chest compressions he stopped,  abruptly stood up, and said, "Fuck him".

According to the California Department of health citation number 17-1040-0009188-S, Client One was later admitted to intensive care "with diagnoses of acute (sudden) respiratory failure, cardiac arrest" and, from choking, ruptured blood vessels in the eye.  There were abrasions to the right upper arm and right thigh. There was a bruise to the left upper arm.

Facility investigators determined the bruising appeared to be shoe prints (emphasis added).

Staff A was a male in his early thirties. He weighed more than 300 pounds, stood 6 feet 3 inches and had a history of misconduct pertaining to client abuse allegations. Staff A, according to those claims attacked clients: twisted their arms, shoved them to the ground, and hit one on the top of the head.  And there was an alleged sexual assault (5/3/2010). Predictably, Staff A conspired to falsify incident reports.

Not so predictably after each and every previously alleged abuse, Staff A was returned to work and eventually,  to his encounter with  Client One.

This citation is one of hundreds reported with the document release.  And then there are the countless unreported victims stretching back to the mid 1800s and California's earliest institutions. An unbroken pattern of torture, implicitly sanctioned.

*The United Nations created the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which went into effect on June 26, 1987, outlawing torture. More than 100 countries signed the convention, including The United States. We observe End of Torture Day with stories of people tortured in our  state facilities.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


From Time Magazine

Saturday is World Down Syndrome Day, a day recognized each year by the United Nations to raise awareness about the genetic disease. Here are five things you need to know about Down syndrome.
1. Down syndrome is caused by an extra set of chromosome 21. Every cell in the body has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one from each parent, but Down occurs when one parent contributes extra genetic material. Older mothers have a higher chance of having a Down baby.
2. More than 400,000 people live with Down in the U.S.
3. The most common symptoms of Down include cognitive delays, low muscle tone and a small stature.
4. People with Down can lead full, independent lives. They are, however, at higher risk of developing heart, respiratory problems and certain cancers.
5. People with Down are living much longer than in the past, thanks to treatments for their health issues. While the average life expectancy in 1983 was 25 years, today it is 60 years.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Brutal Beating of Disabled and other Atrocities

The Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute provides this newsfeed.
Dr. Nora Baladerian's Top Articles (10 of 86 news articles)

1.   “Brutal Beating of Disabled, Sleeping Homeless Man in SF Was a ‘Thrill Kill' ” --- Police are calling the death of a sleeping, disabled homeless man in San Francisco's Financial District, a thrill kill. --- CBS Local --- December 4, 2014  (CALIFORNIA)  http://is.gd/9jiyoT
2.   “Disabled Teen Brought in Weighing about 40 Pounds” --- Police have arrested the father of a mentally disabled 15-year-old girl who authorities say was brought to a central Indiana ... --- WANE --- December 2, 2014  (INDIANA)  http://is.gd/1VMEWV
3.   “Suit Seeks Information about NY Disabled Abuse” --- An advocate for the disabled has sued the Cuomo administration for detailed disclosures about crimes against disabled individuals in ... --- Schenectady Gazette --- December 1, 2014  (NEW YORK)  http://is.gd/nkO6WJ
4.   “Caregiver Who Stole $4,000 from Disabled People Who Couldn't Talk Gets 8 Months in Jail” --- A 48-year-old caregiver who stole about $4,000 from two developmentally disabled Southeast Portland residents, both of whom are in wheelchairs ... --- OregonLive.com --- December 1, 2014  (OREGON) http://is.gd/1OSZtC
5.   “Two Pennsylvania Men Get Life in Prison in Murder of Disabled Woman” --- ... on Monday after pleading guilty to charges they beat, stabbed and burned to death a mentally disabled woman one of them had befriended. --- Reuters --- December 8, 2014  (PENNSYLVANIA)  http://is.gd/6DGgr7
6.   “Bond Set for Teens Charged in Bullying of Special Needs Student” --- Bond was set Thursday afternoon for eight Socastee High students arrested Wednesday and charged with assaulting a 15-year-old special needs ... --- WPDE --- December 4, 2014  (SOUTH CAROLINA)  http://is.gd/NZLVbd
7.   “Former Austin Special Education Teacher Charged with Biting 11-year-old Student During Class” --- Austin police charged 30-year-old Samuel Haire on Thursday with a felony count of injury to a child. Officers say he bit the 11-year-old Kocurek … --- Daily Journal --- December 5, 2014  (TEXAS)  http://is.gd/fdDEyW
8.   “Mentally Disabled People Prey to 'Hidden Sexual Violence' ” --- Sexual assaults on mentally disabled people in Hong Kong were an increasingly common occurrence, social workers said, reflecting both the ... --- South China Morning Post --- December 7, 2014  (HONG KONG)  http://is.gd/9Cxp2s
9.   “North Korea 'Castrates Dwarfs' and Makes Those with Disabilities 'Disappear,' Claim Defectors” --- North Korea is getting rid of its disabled population by subjecting them to chemical weapons tests and castrating them, it was claimed today. --- Mirror.co.uk --- December 11, 2014  (NORTH KOREA)  http://is.gd/L0DxVG
10.   “Jacksonville Man Charged with False Imprisonment on Ten Disabled Adults” --- Police began investigating a “rooming house” on Agnes Street on the ... The group home- Agnes St Group Home for the Elderly- had not been ... --- WOKV --- December 1, 2014  (FLORIDA)  http://is.gd/bhnZaK


The other 76 stories for this week, as well as newsfeeds from prior weeks, can be found at: http://www.disabilityandabuse.org/newsfeed/contents.htm

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The End of Christmas

Christmas is over.

Today  marked the end of David's Christmas time back home and his return to board and care. Without a word, he said he did not want to leave.

His ready to go  backpack rested at our front door. Stealthily, he picked it up and returned it to his bedroom, asserting his intent to stay. My heart sank, as I moved it back to the departure zone and offered (again) my promise that he would come home again soon.  In a few minutes, he repeated the gesture, looking to me to see if I could possibly understand the yearning in his mind and heart to stay home.

I know this betrayal of my son too well. For many years now I have packed his bags, for a return to board and care that neither of us want. I cannot explain to him what I do not fully understand myself. But I try and on this second effort, he relented and we laid the backpack at the door again.  After awhile we left for the long, sad drive back.

There is a helplessness that David feels everyday. Choices are made for him by the guardian and caregivers. It does not matter what he wants. Or what I want. Helplessness and hopelessness consume families where professional guardians have taken control. Part of a larger socioeconomic trend called handicapitalism, guardians, care homes and vendorized "services" take power and capital from people with disabilities in the name of care.  But the underlying principle is profit.

I am grateful for the Circle of Support for David and other circles for the growing numbers of people living on the edges of American society today. Together we will work toward compassion and justice in 2015.