Release investigations of hotline calls

April 7, 2014 

The same Illinois agency that previously didn't investigate the deaths of 53 disabled adults because dead people were "ineligible for services" is now refusing to release the hotline calls made on behalf of Billy Ray Young.

Young, a 52-year-old mentally and physically disabled Belleville resident, was found dead in his house last month in what the coroner said was the worst neglect and abuse he'd ever seen.

The Department of Human Services' rational is that "unsubstantiated and unfounded investigative reports may not be disclosed." Who is that policy supposed to protect? Young? His brother and sister-in-law, the caregivers who are charged in connection with his death? Or Gov. Pat Quinn's administration?

We'll guess the Quinn adminstration.

The Department of Human Services got not just one call but two sounding the alarm about Young's care, in 2007 and 2008. His death raises questions about those previous investigations and whether the state failed in its job of protecting Young. Without access to the investigative reports, the public is left in the dark.

Maybe that's what the state prefers. Remember, when we called after Young's death to ask if there had been any hotline calls, the answer was "no." It was only because we had documents from a newspaper investigation in 2010 that we were able to find a record of the complaints' existence. The Department of Aging, which now investigates allegations of neglect and abuse, said the Department of Human Services didn't transfer the closed case files to it.

How is the Department of Aging supposed to effectively investigate without all the history? The Department of Human Services needs to transfer those records immediately. And it needs to release to the public its previous investigations involving Billy Ray Young.

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