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The Empire

Cuomo, Lawmakers Agree to Sweeping Reform of Disabled Care

Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers have agreed on legislation to strengthen the way the state treats New Yorkers with special needs and disabilities, a system marred by decades of abuse and death.

The deal was announced Sunday.

The governor and legislative leaders agreed to create a Justice Center that will include a prosecutor, inspector general and advisory board to investigate reports of abuse and neglect.

 "That would have representation from family members, from advocates, from provider organizations, to help the Justice Center as it's adopting regulations and policies,” special advisor Clarence Sundrum said.

Cuomo says the legislation will help protect more than 1 million New Yorkers in state licensed and operated facilities or programs.

But critics say it doesn't do enough.

Michael Carey, an advocate who won an abuse disclosure law named for his son Jonathan, said Monday that the deal is a "political stunt" intended to protect the state from lawsuits.

Several other agencies in the system and other advocates, however, have praised the plan.

Annmarie Fertoli contributed reporting