The second part of Tribune investigation “Suffering in Secret” another hard read. The use “buddy investigators” is cited.
Chicago Tribune story below.
For Victims, No Justice
Flawed investigations ignore evidence of neglect in group homes
By Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan
On her last night at a Lockport group home, Tina Marie Douglas tossed her few possessions in the trash and warned caregivers that she planned to run away in the morning.
It was not an idle threat. In the last three months, the 48-year-old state ward diagnosed with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities had slipped out of the home eight times and repeatedly run into the street. Her caregivers were considering moving her to a different home, one on a block with less traffic.
But that never happened. Shortly before dawn in October 2013, she broke away again, sprinted down a four-lane state road and was fatally struck by a car.
The Illinois Department of Human Services, which licensed the group home, assigned its inspector general’s office to conduct a comprehensive review.
But a Tribune investigation found the inspector general’s staffers never interviewed a witness, never visited the group home, never left their desks. Instead, they relied on group home employees to help investigate their own business and, based on those findings, determined the home was not at fault.
The Douglas investigation is one of hundreds in which self-policing played a role in determining whether neglect had occurred, including many where group home employees played an even more significant role — not only gathering evidence but drafting the state’s final investigative reports.
These group home employees — dubbed “buddy investigators” by the Office of the Inspector General — handled at least 550 cases, the Tribune determined. And in the vast majority of instances, employees helped clear their own group homes of wrongdoing.
The Arc of Illinois
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