New Jersey's 11th Legislative District

Senator Jennifer Beck

Senator Jennifer Beck

Beck’s ‘Stephen Komninos’ Law’ to Protect Developmentally Disabled Passes Senate

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The New Jersey Senate has passed “Stephen Komninos’ Law,” bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck to protect people with developmental disabilities from abuse and neglect, by improving transparency and accountability among caregivers and at the 2,340 group homes, developmental centers and day programs across the state.

Sen. Jennifer Beck’s “Stephen Komninos Law” would protect people with developmental disabilities from abuse. The law is named for a 22-year-old man who died at the hands of a neglectful caregiver. (SenateNJ.com)

“What happened to Stephen Komninos was a horrifying, preventable tragedy,” Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) said. “Clearly, there are a number of cracks in the system that are putting people at group homes and other types of care facilities in harm’s way. This law would establish comprehensive set of checks and balances to ensure what happened to Stephen never happens again.”

“Stephen Komninos Law” is named for a 22-year-old man with intellectual disabilities who suffered 16 separate substantiated incidents of abuse between 2004 and 2007. Stephen passed when he was left unsupervised, against medical orders.

According to published reports, his caregiver was allowed to return to work despite the fact that he had been found by DHS to have neglected not only Stephen, but another client as well.

“Stephen Komninos’ Law” (S-516) would require the Department of Human Services to conduct two unannounced site visits, to check if patients are at risk or are being subjected to abuse, neglect or exploitation by a caregivers. S-516 also requires facilities to notify families a soon as possible, but no more than 60 minutes after a resident suffers an injury.

S-516 would also increase penalties for failing to report an incidence of abuse or neglect, and requires drug testing as a condition of employment. The penalties collected would be used for caregiver training and conducting the visits conducted as required under the bill.

Senator Beck expressed her gratitude to Tom Komninos, Aileen Rivera, Martha Cray, and all of the families who have advocated tirelessly for this law.

“There are 2,340 group homes, developmental centers and day programs across New Jersey. Right now, the state is falling short of its responsibility to ensure every resident at each facility is safe and receiving the proper care,” Senator Beck added. “The unannounced site visits, faster parental notification, and stronger penalties required under ‘Stephen Komninos Law’ will save lives. I hope to see these protections signed into law as soon as possible.”

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