5pm News Replay, Friday Sep 21
BATON ROUGE - State Senator Regina Barrow took the first steps Thursday to make sure more regulations are in place for people who run group homes. She submitted a resolution creating a task force which will impose those regulations on them.
Right now, group homes can pop up anywhere and don't have to be licensed. They serve the most fragile in our community.
Wednesday, the WBRZ Investigative Unit showed you a filthy facility called the Prosperity House off Greenwell Springs Road. Pictures obtained by WBRZ showed people sleeping on the floor, eating without utensils, and people appearing to be neglected. Two hours before our story aired, the State Fire Marshal, Office of Elderly Affairs and law enforcement raided the place.
"For anyone operating a home and not operating it in the proper manner, we are not going to tolerate this," Barrow said. "I'm asking for people to sound the alarm and let us know. We will not tolerate this type of behavior."
Thursday, a former worker hired by the Davenports, who run the home, said she filed complaints with the state. Hope Coleman said she was hired as a social worker and noticed at least one resident showed signs of abuse.
"I noticed her hand was swollen, so I asked her what was wrong with your hand," Coleman said. "She said someone from the group home hit her with a spoon. I filed a complaint with adult protection services... And followed up with the attorney general's office."
It's unclear what happened with those complaints. But, the WBRZ Investigative Unit learned the woman Coleman was talking about, Melanie Cummings, was found dead in the house in April. Her cause of death and toxicology report are still pending according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office.
Barrow said she is passionate about making changes after seeing our story and said the abuse these people endure must stop.
"We don't allow our pets to live in those situations," Barrow said. "These individuals that can't properly communicate what the issues are, we are the ones who are given the protection over them and we have to make sure they are protected from people who try to take advantage of them."
Barrow expects the task force she created to begin meeting once the special session wraps up.