Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, introduced legislation, Senate Bill 5099, to increase protections for vulnerable adults.
- Increases penalties;
- Reduce barriers to prosecution and;
- Expands the scope of protection for vulnerable persons
The bill comes in response to increased incidences of financial exploitation and physical abuse among aging state residents. The National Council on Aging estimates that, “1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.” The bipartisan proposal encourages counties to develop written protocols for handling criminal cases involving vulnerable adults.
“Exploiting vulnerable adults is one of the most heinous crimes someone can commit,” said Bailey. “We know that these incidences are under reported and communities are in need of direction on how to protect aging adults. It is time for stiffer penalties and clear practices for prosecutors to keep these vulnerable populations safe.”
The legislation received a public hearing Feb. 1 in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.