Here’s how you can help protect NJ’s most vulnerable residents (Opinion)
In 2017, 33-year-old Billy Cray was found dead in his bedroom closet at the Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health of New Jersey in Somers Point. The cause of death was suspicious, and his mother revealed he had been abused regularly in his 25 years of living in five group homes around the state.
Beyond the tragic death of this young man is the fact that no one has been charged with his death. A lack of evidence, witnesses, and passing years have all but eliminated any chance that justice will be served for Bill and his family.
That's why it's critical we do something to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. There is hope for the future but that effort is stalled in the legislature.
Bill S1897 was initially introduced more than two years ago but is now stalled in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. State Sens. Ed Durr, R-Gloucester, and Bob Singer, R-Ocean, have reintroduced the bill. It seems the chairman of the committee, state Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, is more interested in playing politics than saving lives.
According to the bill's new sponsors, there are at least 25 of the 40 state senators on board supporting its passage. The bill is simple and will make group homes safer for residents.
It requires the installation of video cameras in all common areas of adult group homes for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities only if all the residents agree. Cameras can also be added to private rooms upon request of the resident.
We need to pass this legislation now. The roadblock is Vitale, who serves as the chairman of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and refuses to post the bill for a vote. Classic Trenton partisan politics getting in the way of progress.
Senator Durr joined me on the morning show to discuss why this bill is important and what he's hoping the public can do to get the bill passes.
For your part, please join me as a citizen signer for this important legislation that may help save lives this year. www.takeaction2023.com
Please, join me in supporting S1897 / Billy Cray’s Law. It’s Common Sense.
And to Sen. Vitale: Stop with your petty partisan politics. Post the bill. Pass the bill. Start saving lives today.
Martha Cray, mother or Billy Cray, called into the show to discuss the bill.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.