Abuse, Neglect, and Crimes Against People with Disabilities
People with disabilities are at a higher risk of abuse, neglect and being victims of crime. Estimates show they are at least four to ten times more likely victims than people without disabilities are. For more information about our work in this area, keep reading.
Disability Rights California’s Investigations Unit advocates for equal protection of people with disabilities. We do this through investigations, policy, and legislative efforts. On this page, you can find information about our work on systemic reform on issues of neglect, abuse, and victimization of people with disabilities.
How Can I Report Abuse?
Abuse and neglect of dependent adults and elders is a crime. If you are a victim of abuse or neglect, or if you have knowledge of an incident, you can report it to law enforcement, adult protective services, or licensing agencies.
You can report any incident of abuse or neglect to the police or local law enforcement agency. If the incident of abuse or neglect occurred in the community, you may report the incident to Adult Protective Services. If the incident of abuse or neglect occurred in a long-term health facility, like a nursing home or board and care home, you may report the abuse to the local long-term care ombudsman. If the abuse or neglect occurred in a licensed health facility, such as a nursing home or hospital, you may also report the incident to the Department of Public Health. If it occurred in a licensed community facility, such as a group home or board and care home, you may report the incident to Community Care Licensing. If the abuse occurred in jail, you may report it to the Office of the Inspector General.
More information about how to make a report of possible abuse or neglect of a person with a disability or an elder can be found at Reporting Abuse of an Elder and Adult with a Disability (for consumers) or Reporting Elder and Adult Abuse: It is your Duty! (For mandated reporters).
Disability Rights California confirmed a pattern of excessive and abusive restraint practices at a large locked nursing home serving individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Most of the residents lacked insight into their serious condition and were placed at the facility by publicly appointed conservators or the courts. Several years earlier, Disability Rights California had negotiated an access agreement with the facility’s corporate entity when denied access to records and residents after receiving numerous reports and then witnessing incidents of resident abuse.
Disability Rights California have investigated squalid conditions at a number of unlicensed room and board homes serving adults with psychiatric disabilities across the state. One provider in San Bernardino County was housing residents with psychiatric disabilities in chicken coops which had been converted into barracks-style housing. Residents were using buckets as toilets. Meals, cooked in a makeshift open-air “M.A.S.H. type” kitchen, were served to residents on outdoor picnic tables, rain or shine.
DRC’s IU staff monitored the use of restraint and seclusion practices, as well as the pattern of aggressive acts and serious incidents, at state hospitals. DRC reviewed and analyzed data pertaining to: the use of restraint and seclusion on patients; restraint/seclusion related injuries to staff and patients; injuries to patients and staff from patient aggressive acts; restraint or seclusion injuries or deaths reported to DRC; and other serious incidents suggestive of criminal abuse reported to DRC (unexpected/suspicious deaths, sexual assault allegations involving staff, physical abuse reported by staff that was in turn reported to local law enforcement).
This report lists our findings about licensing citations when people die in nursing homes. We found that licensing gave lower fines when staff contributed to the deaths.
This report tells you about 12 cases of physical and sexual abuse. The people lived in nursing homes. The abuse was by staff. DRC looked at how the abuse response and criminal justice systems handled the cases. The report has our findings and suggestions.
Prone restraint is dangerous. This report talks about the dangers. It asks people to stop using it. We want to make people safer.
This report talks about how people with disabilities have a higher chance of being victims of abuse. The report explains why this problem is a challenge for the whole state.
This report talks about the risks of drugs to treat mental health disabilities. These drugs can be dangerous. When doctors give several at the same time, they are very dangerous. We ask doctors to put safeguards in place to protect patients.
The report looks at how the Department of Developmental Services responded to cases of abuse. This report talks about people who had injuries to their private parts and gives the reader details on what happened in each case.
This report talks about seclusion and restraint in schools. It talks about needed changes. We want seclusion stopped. We want restraint used only when necessary. We want agencies to make sure schools use them correctly.
This report describes what happened when a hospital ignored a patient’s treatment wishes. When the patient was unconscious, they stopped his treatment. As a result, he died. The pub gives options for handling this kind of situation in the future.