Know Your Rights
Individuals with disabilities have a right to be free from abuse and neglect and from other forms of exploitation and discrimination. For more information, see our pages on Abuse and Neglect and Restraint and Seclusion.
Learn More on pg 10 of NH Bar Foundation News (Jan. 15 2020): Disability and the Juvenile Justice System
DRC-NH is authorized by federal law to investigate potential abuse or neglect of individuals with disabilities in facilities. This authority is triggered when DRC-NH receives a report or determines there is probable cause to believe that abuse or neglect occurred. Upon opening an investigation, DRC-NH is entitled to promptly access facilities, residents, staff, and records.
DRC-NH can also monitor the rights and safety of people with disabilities, regardless of whether an incident of abuse or neglect has been alleged. This monitoring authority includes on-site access to facilities and programs serving individuals with disabilities, as well as the opportunity to speak with residents or staff.
On behalf of individuals with disabilities who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other violations of their rights, DRC-NH may pursue administrative, legal, and other remedies, including filing lawsuits, advocating for reforms, and issuing reports.
Three federal statutes provide DRC-NH the authority described above: the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 15043; the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. § 10805; and the Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights program of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794e
Restraint and Seclusion Laws
RSA 126-U is a state law that limits the use of restraint and seclusion of children by schools and by certain providers of residential services and treatment to children. It restricts the use of restraint and seclusion only to emergency situations when no other intervention will prevent the substantial and imminent risk of serious bodily harm to the child or someone else. More information about this law can be found in our Restraint and Seclusion in School brochure.
There are specific rules regarding the use of restraint and seclusion that apply to designated receiving facilities that provide psychiatric treatment to children and adults, such as New Hampshire Hospital. See our Restraint and Seclusion While at the Hospital: What are my rights? brochure. Medicaid law similarly restricts the use of restraint and seclusion on both adults and children in facilities that accept Medicaid.
How We Can Help
If you, or someone you know, is an individual with a disability who has experienced abuse or neglect, you can report this information to DRC-NH. As a Protection and Advocacy System under federal law, DRC-NH can investigate a facility if we receive a report or determine there is probable cause to believe that a person with a disability may have been abused or neglected.
DRC-NH has investigated many facilities throughout New Hampshire, shedding light on harmful conditions, prompting reforms, and even leading policymakers to shut down a problematic facility. Examples of DRC-NH’s investigative work include Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center and the Sununu Youth Services Center.