What is Jonathan’s Law? [Part I]

A Brief Look at New York State’s Jonathan’s Law 

I will be uploading a infographic later this week to provide a more comprehensive look at the law and life story of Jonathan Carey, the 13-year old boy with disabilities whose death at O.D. Heck (a state institution) prompted the advocacy leading to the creation of this law.

1. What is Jonathan’s Law?

Referring to the amendments made to the New York State Mental Hygiene Law, specifically sections 33.23 and 33.25. Under this law, the facility must:

  •  inform “qualified persons” of any accident or injury that affects the health or safety of a person receiving services, and
  • provide documents or records relating to any patient abuse or mistreatment to qualified person(s).

The law is named after Jonathan Carey who asphyxiated after being “slowly crushed to death in the back seat of a van by a state employee” at OD Heck on Feburary 15, 2007 (Hakim, 2011)

*OD Heck was a state facility operated by the OPWDD, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and closed down this past March,2015).

2. Who falls under the “qualified person(s)” category? 

  • Parents or legal guardians of minor patients

  • Family members or adult children who are legally authorized to make health care decisions on behalf of adult patient

  • Adult patients who have been determined by a court to be legally incompetent.


  1. Associated Press. (2013, October 23). Cuomo signs law to let families disclose Jonathan’s Law reports about NY abuse of disabled. Syracuse.com. Retrieved from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/cuomo_end_bans_on_families_disclosing_abuse_reports_involving_disabled_at_ny_fac.html
  2. Hakin, D. (2011, June 5). A disabled boy’s death, and a system in disarray. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/nyregion/boys-death-highlights-crisis-in-homes-for-disabled.html 
  3. Karlin, R. (2015, March 31). O.D. Heck center is closed. Times Union. Retrieved from http://www.timesunion.com/7day-state/article/O-D-Heck-center-is-closed-6171318.php
  4.  Karlin, R. (2015, April 15). State settles $2.25 million abuse case from O.D. Heck. Times Union. Retrieved from http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/State-settles-2-25-million-abuse-case-from-O-D-6203067.php
  5. Morahan, T. (2015). New York State Senate Passes Jonathan’s LawNysenate.gov. Retrieved 19 May 2015, from http://www.nysenate.gov/news/new-york-state-senate-passes-jonathan%E2%80%99s-law
  6. NYS Justice center for the protection of people with special needs. (n.d.) Jonathan’s Law [FAQ]. Retrieved from http://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/faq-categories/jonathan%E2%80%99s-law

2 thoughts on “What is Jonathan’s Law? [Part I]

  1. Thank God for parents like Michael Carey who continue to give a voice to the voiceless. And thank you. too, for creating this blog. I think you will be helping many people.

    In Michigan, there is a woman who started a website called Herosource.com It is a place for parents and loved ones to search out services for their children or sibling who has special needs.It is very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the website reference. I’m always looking for more blogs on advocacy. The more, the merrier.
      Thank you for your constant support and comments! They really keep me going!

      I emailed Michael Carey last week about his work and he responded so quickly. He really is friendly and passionate. We definitely need more parents (and people) like Michael Carey!


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