WASHINGTON –Bipartisan legislation to step
up enforcement against perpetrators of crimes targeting senior citizens became
law Wednesday after receiving the president’s signature. The Elder Abuse
Prevention and Protection Act of 2017, introduced by Judiciary Committee
Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.),
passed by a voice vote in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives
in August and October respectively.
“Families across America,
including in Iowa, have been victimized by crimes targeting seniors, and as the
population ages, we can expect more and more victims if we don’t act. The Elder
Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act takes meaningful steps to equip law
enforcement, seniors and caregivers with additional tools so they can deter
these crimes and hold perpetrators accountable,” Grassley said. “I am glad that
the Senate, the House and the president—Democrat and Republican alike—took
action to address such a kitchen-table, personal dignity issue.”
“Senior citizens and their loved
ones deserve peace of mind and a sense of security during their golden
years—not the constant threat of abuse and exploitation. Sadly, the breadth and
invisibility of elder abuse present immense challenges to addressing these
dangers. By raising awareness, improving prevention and increasing prosecution,
this bipartisan victory will help combat the unconscionable nationwide scourge
of elder abuse for years to come,” Blumenthal said.
financial exploitation has been called “the crime of the 21st century.” Studies
indicate that it could be the most widespread form of elder abuse, costing
older Americans as much as $36 billion each year; and many seniors are
reluctant to report the crime. This legislation expands data collection and
information sharing to better prevent and respond to all forms of elder abuse
and exploitation, including financial crimes against seniors.
increases training for federal
investigators and prosecutors and calls for the designation of at least one
prosecutor in each federal judicial district who will be tasked with handling
cases of elder abuse. It also ensures that the Federal Trade Commission’s
Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Justice Department will both have an
elder justice coordinator.
to deter future crimes against seniors, the bill increases penalties for
perpetrators – including mandatory forfeiture.
year, the bipartisan 3,000-member Elder Justice Coalition called the bill, “one
of the most comprehensive and meaningful bills ever developed to address the
rapidly increasing problem of elder financial abuse in America.” The bill also
has the support of Consumers Union, SIFMA, the 60 Plus Association, the
Alzheimer’s Association and the National Center for Victims of Crime, among
with Grassley and Blumenthal, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Thom Tillis
(R-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Patrick Leahy
(D-Vt.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin
(D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine.),
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Catherine
to combat crimes against seniors and worked to raise greater awareness for such
issues facing seniors.