This has been an interesting week for TV Investigations into issues of care for our citizens with Intellectual Disabilities.
One deserves to be heard and is a real investigation into real and current issues of abuse and death of an innocent man who happened to live with an intellectual disability. Well, the other report, is not really an investigation – at least not yet – but looking into what happened in the institutions over 40 years ago with video of the horrible conditions in bygone years.
Kudos to Tracy Vedder from KOMO News for her investigation into the death of Jessy Hamilton and the total mistreatment of him while under the care of the court system. Jessy’s death is a tragedy and could have been prevented if the judge, lawyer, Cetralia Police Department and the Developmental Disabilities Administration were capable of doing their jobs.
On another station, Susannah Frame of King 5 News has started her investigation series titled “The Last of the Institutions” with this video.
Unfortunately, the information that Ms. Frame has shared is decades behind and not factual. She has gathered her information from biased reports and has chosen to use video which does not depict our state’s therapeutic communities as they are today. She has chosen to show one campus from a back gate separating the campus from a neighboring park – the only fence she could find on the campus. When questioned about this blatant misrepresentation of what the campus looked like she wrote “it was the only public space they could find”. Ms. Frame ought to know better – the campus itself is public property – no gates or fences – she could very well have chosen a setting to show what the campus actually looked like.
Washington STate DSHS did make a clarification of this shot on a comment on the King 5 Website:
Ms. Frame states that there will be more coming in which she will delve into the various issues more thoroughly. My hope is that she has facts – not just wishful thinking.
I will be following the “investigation” closely and adding comments here and on King 5 Facebook and website. I will provide facts and resources.
The issue is not “community” vs “institution” but about how are state can provide quality care to those who need it bases on their support needs and their choice.
We are way ahead of other states but we do need to have better quality of care, better oversight in the community, better pay for caregivers and better training and support. Continuing to keep the “community” vs “institution” issue as a focus will only detract from what we really need to look at and investigate. This is irresponsible reporting.