State Lawmaker Says More Disclosure Needed After Death of Patient in State's Care

OCTOBER 10, 2006 - Posted at 3:26 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Some state lawmakers say they want to open maltreatment reports to the public after this year's death of a developmentally disabled man at the Alexander Human Development Center.

But Health and Human Services Department officials told a legislative panel yesterday that state law prohibits the public release of the details of Leroy Johnson, a 41-year-old man who died April 24 after an altercation with center employees.

Johnson's death led to the dismissal of a supervisor and written warnings for two other workers.

Legislators vented frustration over an inability to get details on Johnson's death at a hearing.

Charles Hicks, general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services, says legislators can receive information from the report but cannot disclose it to the public.

Representative Stephanie Flowers, a Democrat from Pine Bluff, says she wants to look next year at changing the state's law to allow the release of the reports publicly.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)