Advocates for people with disabilities are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate state employees who were fired for horrific abuse, but never criminally prosecuted for it.
The move follows a Texas Tribune story last week that found only two of the 75 state institution employees fired for “class 1” abuse in the last decade were ever jailed for their acts. Just 16 percent of these employees were ever prosecuted.
Gov. Rick Perry’s office said last week that the decision to prosecute rests with local district attorneys — and should remain there.
And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said they don’t have the authority to step in to review the cases.
But advocates say this won’t suffice. In a letter they sent Monday, they asked the DOJ’s Criminal Investigation Division to review the cases and, if confirmed, charge the state school employees with federal hate crimes.
“It is shameful and unacceptable for state employees paid by taxpayer dollars to not be held accountable for horrific crimes against our most vulnerable citizens,” said David Wittie, president of Community Now!, a disability rights advocacy group. “Clearly, Texas is not capable of prosecuting these perpetrators.”