January 23, 2010
United States Department of Justice
Criminal Investigation Division
P.O. Box 66018
Washington D.C. 20035-6018
Dear Mr. Perez,
On behalf of Community Now! a Texas statewide advocacy group with a mission to support people with disabilities to live in their communities please accept this sincere and critical request to investigate numerous former Texas state employees who committed horrific acts of violence against residents of several state institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. Upon investigation and if warranted, we sincerely request that those individuals found guilty of criminal acts be charged by the DOJ with Hate Crimes against people with disabilities. It was recently reported in the Texas Tribune (note enclosed article) that since 2000, 75 former employees were fired because of confirmed Class 1 Abuse. This level of abuse is the most heinous and includes sexual and physical assault, murder and gross neglect. Of those 75 individuals, only two were incarcerated for their crimes.
It appears that in Texas there is no justice for sadists who commit violent crimes against our most vulnerable and at risk citizens. The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), the agency who operates these facilities points to Adult Protective Services, (APS) the agency that investigates abuse and neglect at these facilities. APS points to local law enforcement and local law enforcement points to the County Prosecutors and the Prosecutors do little to nothing with these cases. And with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else, people in these facilities are abused without accountability thus sending a clear message to other facility staff that you can get away with murder.
Even with state institution reform legislation passed in the previous Texas Legislative Session (SB 643), it appears that the Ombudsman position with increased oversight authority of these facilities has not been appointed by Governor Perry and even with a network of Ombudsman, there is limited authority by the Texas Attorney General to investigate and prosecute state employees with confirmed Class 1 Abuse if the County Prosecutor is not willing to do so.
As you most likely know, Texas entered into a settlement for numerous civil rights violations investigated by the DOJ CRIPPA division. Currently, the conditions of these facilities are being monitored by the DOJ. Hopefully something will come of this monitoring to ensure the safety of those who live in these facilities.
Further, the hope is that the DOJ will ensure Olmstead is honored by closely monitoring the right of residents to leave the facility to live in the community upon their request.
Let me be clear, I am not asking for any further investigation from the DOJ regarding CRIPPA. On behalf of Community Now! we strongly request the immediate investigation and charges of Hate Crimes against those perpetrators of these despicable crimes. I was provided your name by the leadership at the Regional Office of Civil Rights. If you are not the right person to make the decision to investigate these crimes, I implore you to forward this letter to the individual charged with leading Hate Crime investigations at the DOJ with all haste. And if this is not within the authority of the DOJ, please provide me with the contact information of the appropriate person and agency to contact.
I look forward to your prompt response and immediate action to our requests. Thank you for your time and consideration.
David Wittie, President
2316 Bristol Street
Bryan, Texas 77802
Governor Rick Perry
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst
United States Senator John Cornyn
United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Representative Lloyd Doggett
State Senator Jane Nelson
State Senator Steve Ogden
State Senator Jeff Wentworth
State Representative Abel Herrera
State Representative Larry Phillips
State Representative Patrick Rose
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