Elder abuse is probably among the most despicable of crimes. Yet, it is also probably one of the most unreported crimes occurring today in our nation. This is according to those who work with our nation’s seniors.
It’s a growing problem nationwide, even in places like South Dakota. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Now, state lawmakers are putting forth a bill that they will hope will stiffen penalties and increase awareness of these kinds of crimes.
State AARP director Sarah Jennings spoke on the problem, admitting that she did not know how many seniors might have been abused statewide. She stated, “Whether it’s because the victim is scared to come forward, doesn’t know what to do if they think they have been victimized.”
These reasons were those behind state lawmakers forming a task force to study the problem last year. This year, the state legislature has submitted legislation that will make the physical and psychological abuse of an elderly person a felony. It will also bar convicted felons from being guardians or caregivers.
The bill, if approved, will also allow the State Attorney’s office to hire more staff to investigate complaints of elder abuse.
Many seniors are afraid to come forward because their abusers are often family, friends, or care givers. The bill would allow victims to seek protection orders against their abusers and provide an avenue to recover damages from exploitation.
The bill was first read in the state senate last Tuesday, and was delayed action. However, the bill is expected to pass readily.
If you believe yourself or someone you know to be the victim of elder abuse or neglect, contact the law offices of Schenk Smith. Our attorneys specialize in this type of litigation. Contact us today.