Would Designate August 27 of Each Year as Billy Cray Day
An affable young man with developmental disabilities died in his group home bedroom on August 27, 2017, and Senator Ed Durr is determined to ensure his name and his fate are never forgotten.
Sen. Ed Durr introduced a resolution that would designate Aug. 27 of each year as Billy Cray Day, honoring an affable young man with developmental disabilities who died in his group home bedroom in 2017. (SenateNJ.com)
The Senator introduced a resolution that would designate August 27 of each year as Billy Cray Day.
“We cannot allow the mistreatment and tragic loss of William ‘Billy’ Cray to fade from our conscience,” said Durr (R-3). “The injustice Billy endured while in the care of state-licensed group home, the injuries he suffered and the bruises he carried to his grave demand more.”
As the anniversary of the tragedy approaches, Durr is optimistic that his legislative colleagues will endorse the resolution, SJR-96, and pledges to work tirelessly to get it approved in time for Bill Cray Day 2023.
“This annual remembrance will serve as a solemn reminder of the abuse, neglect and exploitation that may be occurring in the shadows of congregate settings, and help protect those susceptible residents in group homes,” the Senator continued.
Cray, whose mother Martha Cray has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of group home residents with developmental disabilities, spent much of his life in residential care where he was exposed to multiple occurrences of abuse.
“We may never know what really happened to Billy Cray, a happy-go-lucky man-child who had been chatting with and singing to his mom on the phone the night before he passed. But with this bill, we will remember his name and we will remember that he was failed repeatedly by the system designed to protect and care for him and others who need it,” Durr said.
To safeguard group home residents, Durr also sponsors legislation (S-1897) that would require certain facilities “to install electronic monitoring devices in common areas, upon request and with uniform resident consent, and to permit consensual use of such devices in private rooms.”
The bill has bipartisan support and has been referenced to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“The responsible use of cameras will improve the quality of life of individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Durr. “We cannot ignore the abuse of our most vulnerable New Jerseyans. Video documentation of what happens inside these homes will help better ensure the safety and well-being of residents we have an obligation to support.”