Vitale Bill To Protect Developmentally Disabled Individuals Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require a court order for admittance into the Moderate Security Unit (MSU) at the New Lisbon Developmental Center was unanimously approved by the Senate today.

“The MSU facility at New Lisbon is intended to serve a segment of the developmentally disabled population that needs a more structured environment,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “It is a place where patients with a greater risk of violence are offered the care and treatment they need to live with their disability. To allow non-violent individuals with disabilities to mix freely with people that fit the MSU profile is a recipe for disaster, and is likely to get someone injured, or possibly killed.”

The bill, S-1047, would require that a person could not be admitted into the MSU without the order of a court of competent jurisdiction. The bill also outlines the eligibility and placement of individuals who are developmentally disabled and involved in criminal proceedings, and establishes guidelines for the period of stay at the MSU and the terms of their release. In addition, the bill allows those in the care of the MSU to voluntarily opt to stay after their required term at the facility, if they so choose.

“The MSU is equipped to handle the needs of a special subset of citizens with disabilities, and should be focused on their mission to provide structured, disciplined treatment,” said Senator Vitale. “It’s not an environment where everyone living with disabilities will thrive. We need protections in place to ensure that the wrong people aren’t assigned to the MSU without cause, and that the resources provided to the MSU go towards the intended mission of helping disabled individuals who need more structure to their treatment regimen.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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