Boston area group homes housing drug addicts and the mentally ill have been lightning rods for court actions involving residents accused of violent eruptions that have resulted in a broken jaw for one staffer, a slashing, a torched home, and caretakers being terrorized, reports the Boston Herald. After the January slaying of a young social worker, the Herald reviewed dozens of lawsuits involving several state-contracted group home providers and found several involving violent Department of Mental Health clients. The findings raise safety concerns for staffers, residents and neighbors of these homes, which are often tucked into residential neighborhoods.
Several suits allege violent incidents at homes run by Boston's two largest providers, Vinfen and Bay Cove Human Services. Group home providers don't run criminal background checks on prospective residents and the state does not conduct Criminal Offender Records Information checks on clients. A blue-ribbon panel convened after the Jan. 20 slaying of group home worker Stephanie Moulton is mulling whether criminal screenings should be done. The panel is also probing staffing levels and training. Bay Cove president Stan Connors said: “The safety of our work force and those whom we serve has always been, and continues to be, one of our highest priorities.”