Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday round-up

Update (June 12) - The Associated Press reports that William Cozzie was sentenced yesterday to more than three years in federal prison. From the Chicago Tribune, June 11, 2009 - A Chicago police officer, William Cozzi, faces up to 8 years in prison when he is sentenced on Thursday afternoon for the videotaped beating of a man handcuffed and shackled to a wheelchair in 2005. William Cozzi pleaded guilty in January to using excessive force when he struck Randy Miles, a hospital patient, about a dozen times with a sap, a leather spatula-shaped object.

From the Associated Press, June 11, 2009 - A report from the Government Accountability Office has found that nearly one-third of the nation’s polling places failed to provide access to voters in wheelchairs in last November’s election. The study found that 23 percent of polling places denied privacy to voters with disabilities, and 73 percent had physical features that could impede access to people with disabilities. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars have been given to states to make polling places more accessible since the 2002 passage of the Help America Vote Act.

From the Miami Herald in Miami, Florida, June 11, 2009 - "A Miami man caring for a severely disabled daughter is suing Medicaid for its refusal to pay for her diapers." The man, who is widowed and unemployed, says he can't afford the diapers and other necessities for his family, and has asked Medicaid, the state's insurance program for the needy, to help. Medicaid administrators have refused to pay. They haven't explained why they won't pay, other than say the items aren't in the state's plan, say the man's attorneys. Two other states had excluded diapers from their Medicaid plans, Arizona and Louisiana, said one of the man's lawyers with Legal Services of Greater Miami. Both states lost court challenges. "Diapers may not appear to be medical equipment or devices," said another attorney who works with Florida Legal Services. But ''there is a whole other world of children who are so disabled that they are incontinent,'' she added.

From the Associated Press in Paris, Texas, June 11, 2009 - An 18-year-old teenager with severe intellectual disabilities was sentenced to 100 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his 6-year-old neighbor. Aaron Hart of Paris pleaded guilty to five counts, including aggravated sexual assault and indecency by contact. According to the report, the judge decided to stack the sentences against Hart after jurors settled on two five-year terms and three 30-year terms. The judge said neither he nor jurors liked the idea of prison for Hart but they felt there was no other option.

From the Fresno Bee in Fresno, California, June 10, 2009 - The mother of a California teenager with Down syndrome said she is frustrated that her son and 10 other students in his special education class were left out of the 2009 Madera High School yearbook. The district blamed the oversight on new software that weeded out photos of students whose identification numbers were not in the school system since the Madera County Office of Education, not the high school, runs the special-education class.

From the Mid Hudson News, Rockland County, New York, June 9, 2009 - A Congers woman, who cared for a disabled man, has been arrested and charged with stealing thousands of dollars from him. Debra Ann Mills, 53, was charged with grand larceny in the third degree. It is alleged that Ms Mills stole over $3,000 from a trust fund for the benefit of the man over a 13 month period. She had access to the fund set up for him by his late mother.

From Housing Wire, June 9, 2009 - An annual congressional report by the US Department of Housing in Urban Development says consumers filed a record 10,552 fair housing discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2008. Discrimination based on disability accounted for 44% of the complaints while 35% of complaints alleged discrimination based on race. Complaints were filed on the basis of alleged discrimination in terms, conditions, privileges, services, or facilities involved in the sale or rental of housing.

From The Washington Post, June 9, 2009 - The growing population of elderly and disabled people in the Washington area is threatening to overwhelm the door-to-door regional paratransit service that Metro operates for those who are unable to ride the subway or bus, according to officials.

From More than half of British society sees disabled people as "inferior", according to research published June 8. Disability charity Scope said it found 53% viewed disabled people "in a negative way". The equality rights campaigners said an online survey also found 38% of respondents thought the disabled were a "drain on resources". However, the findings showed a strong public backing for action in favour of disabled people's equality. (h/t Media dis&dat)

From the New York Times, June 9, 2009 - A national survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, a division of the United Health Group, finds that the economic crisis has dealt a heavy blow to the estimated 44 million Americans who care for an aging or disabled relative or spouse. According to the survey, one in six caregivers said they had lost a job during the downturn. Some 21 percent said they had to share housing with family members to save money. At the same time, government and non-profit organizations that usually provide relief are being cut in the downturn.

From the Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2009 - The federal government sued United Airlines on Thursday, saying the carrier made it too hard for workers who became disabled to switch to other jobs they could perform. The lawsuit accuses United of "malicious and reckless conduct" and seeks lost wages and punitive damages for victims and an order that United stop discriminating against disabled workers.