N.J. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner protects disabled from abuse | Commentary | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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N.J. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner protects disabled from abuse

pizzurosal073111_optBY SALVATORE PIZZURO
COMMENTARY

Assemblywoman Concetta "Connie" Wagner is among the State Legislators who are determined to protect New Jersey’s vulnerable citizens from abuse. She is a primary sponsor of A-799, a bill that would require the reporting of the mistreatment of individuals with developmental disabilities. Wagner has been a member of New Jersey Assembly since January 8, 2008, representing the 38th legislative district.

Assemblywoman Wagner serves as the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Health and Senior Services and as a member of the Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities. She previously served on the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders and as a member of the Paramus Borough Council. The Assemblywoman resigned from both elected offices when she ascended to the State Legislature.

Wagner received a B.A. in Education from Trenton State College, and an M.A. in Student Affairs from Montclair State University.

Assembly Bill 799 would require “the reporting of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult by a health care professional, law enforcement officer, firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician who has reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult is the subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Health care professionals subject to this requirement would include those employed at health care facilities, correctional facilities, developmental centers, and congregate living facilities.”

Currently, no law mandates or requires anyone to report suspected abuse or neglect of vulnerable or disabled adults. Wagner is determined to prevent such crimes from going unreported.

The issue of abuse of people with disabilities in State and private facilities has been largely ignored. Patients with special needs are often unequipped to report episodes of mistreatment or are afraid to do so. Assemblywoman Wagner’s bill would make it a crime to fail to report such occurrences when one becomes aware of them. In any case, Connie Wagner is determined to see that our vulnerable citizens are not abandoned.

Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.

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