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Questions surround supervision of DDS client with violent history

Anthony Remillard, an intellectually disabled man who fatally assaulted another man at the former Templeton Developmental Center in 2013, has been released from prison to a group home amid lingering questions about his supervision.

Dennis Perry, who was also intellectually disabled, died in the sudden and unprovoked attack in which Remillard shoved him against the side of a boiler in the dairy barn of the former facility.

Nancy Perry Mias, Dennis Perry’s sister, told us in September that she had been notified that Remillard, who was convicted of the crime and served seven years in prison, has been placed in a group home funded by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

Nancy said her concern is for the residents at the group home, as Remillard obviously has violent tendencies and probably didn’t get the help he needs while in prison. “I do have sympathy for this man,” she wrote to us in an email, “but I just feel as if the other families at the group home could be blindsided as we were, when we found out his history.”

In response to a Public Records Law request we sent to DDS in September, the Department responded that it does not have specific policies to alert the police, families, the community, or other residents when people with violent or criminal tendencies are placed in group homes.

DDS does provide special staff training, known as Crisis Prevention, Response and Restraint (CPRR), in group homes that house persons with potentially violent behaviors, an official stated. But it is not clear whether the group home to which Remillard has been admitted has implemented the CPRR curriculum, as specified in DDS regulations.

We’ve blogged about this case a number of times, also questioning the lack of supervision of Remillard at Templeton. We’ve also questioned whether it was appropriate to place him in prison where he wasn’t likely to get treatment, but would possibly be exposed to even more violence.

While Templeton was a functioning Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), it housed a number of clients with violent behaviors. But Remillard was a resident there after the facility was targeted for closure and was being phased down. Templeton was closed in 2015.

Although an internal DDS investigation of Perry’s murder cleared the Templeton staff of any omissions of care, we raised questions about the lack of thoroughness of the DDS report and the fact that the Department was essentially investigating itself in the matter.

In September, after learning of Remillard’s release from prison, we filed the public records request to determine what policies DDS has to protect other residents and the community when potentially violent residents are placed in DDS facilities. We asked, among other things, for any policies to alert the police and other residents and guardians and members of the community to the criminal backgrounds of clients in group homes.

DDS stated that it doesn’t have any policies of its own on alerting family members or the police in those cases. The DDS response stated only that the Department “supports” clients in following laws requiring them to register as sex offenders or to report to law enforcement or probation.

The only thing DDS stated that it has specifically done to ensure the safety of clients in these cases is to have developed the CPRR training program for staff of facilities with residents who have violent behaviors. As part of the their response to us, DDS included an “approved CPRR” workbook, dated 2017 and titled, “Proactive Approaches to Behavioral Challenges.”

The focus of the workbook is on “de-escalation and prevention of challenging behaviors.” The document describes a 20-hour training curriculum, and states that staff in group homes with potentially violent residents receive 1-year certifications in the use of “least restrictive techniques” and in the use of restraints as a last resort.

The workbook discusses the importance of providing reassurance and support to residents who exhibit “challenging behavior.” It states that many people who become violent do so out of feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. The workbook suggests that “helping this person feel stronger and safer is a major means of reducing the probability of aggression.”

The workbook also states that most people exhibit “cues” or warning signs of aggression, and that “knowledge of these and their typical order of occurrence is a key to having a positive outcome to the situation.”

The workbook then lists several handholds and other techniques as “a last resort” to control physically aggressive individuals who endanger themselves, staff, or others. The techniques are presented in a sequence of least restrictive actions to most restrictive.

We assume, or hope, that Remillard has been sent to a group home that provides that training. We have no way, however, of evaluating the quality of the training described.

Ultimately, a single training curriculum is probably not sufficient to ensure the proper supervision of potentially violent individuals in the DDS system, and to keep other residents and the community safe.

This case is yet another reason to question the state’s longstanding policy of closing highly supervised ICF-level facilities such as Templeton, and then privatizing those functions.

But those types of questions have not been raised in recent years by the Legislature or successive administrations about either this case or any number of other abuse and neglect cases that afflict the DDS system with tragic regularity. The Legislature’s Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee has blown opportunity after opportunity to examine these systemic problems.

The Committee is a symbol of legislative failure in this regard, but it is hardly alone in that. The state Attorney General’s Office has similarly failed to take action to protect persons with developmental disabilities.

Nancy Perry Mias and other members of her family initially sought help from members of the state’s congressional delegation in obtaining an independent investigation of the DDS system in the immediate aftermath of Dennis Perry’s killing. They met with the staff of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and with Representative Jim McGovern himself.

They all promised to look into the matter, Nancy said, “but we never heard a word back from them.” She said McGovern even said at the time that, “You certainly deserve an apology.” But, she said, the family never got one.
  1. Ann Sanok
    October 26, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Dan,

    I enjoy and appreciate your blog. I live in NH but our son spent 2 years at Judge Rottenberg in Canton, MA. He is now back in NH and living in a group home in Madison, NH up near North Conway. It is run by Beckett Family Services.

    His home is identified unofficially an Intensive Behavioral Needs residence. Three young men live there – all who have moderate to minor aggression issues.

    I am working with one of our state reps to file a bill requiring that group homes or at least certain ones – be equipped with video cameras to ensure that residents are not being abused by staff. While I am happy with the staff at my son’s residence, there is no real oversight by the state. The case worker has only been there twice in the last year and half and of course we had limited access due to COVID. My point is that myself, and other families, as well as house managers can’t be there all the time and there needs to be documentation of restraints and incidents at least in the common areas of the house.

    I am surprised by the push back I have gotten with this idea – that it somehow takes away the client’s “privacy”. Given the abuse that formerly occurred in institutions and is still occurring in these homes, where clients are often non verbal, I believe that video cameras are a must. Cameras won’t catch everything, but they can help.

    When my son was at Judge Rottenberg, there were incidents of abuse and overreach by staff – but it was documented and discovered because virtually everything is on camera there except bathrooms.

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on this issue and whether you have done any research on video cameras in group homes?

    Thank you for your time and your outstanding writing and advocacy on issues pertaining to the developmentally disabled.

    Best regards,

    Ann Sanok Exeter, NH 603-770-7355 annsanok@comcast.net



  2. October 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    DDS better have a 24 HOUR 7 DAYS A WEEK ONE to ONE staff certified in aggressive behavior techniques. I expect they will as there has been this kind of supervision provided in a different group home.


  3. Anonymous
    October 26, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Dennis Perry’s death never should have happened, let’s make sure it stops there.


  4. Joan D'Arcy Sheridan
    October 26, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    I can not thank you enough for your blog. I feel you are the only ones representing my son


    • Anonymous
      October 27, 2020 at 3:14 am

      Document all your concerns thru email and ask dds to email a detailed safety. DDS is mandated to protect the human right to provide a safe home for it’s clients.


  5. Anonymous
    November 15, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    This is horrific ! Sending may prayers I pray some day all the abuse on special needs people stop .


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