Community Corrections Response to Elder Abuse
Enacted: Feb 2005
WHEREAS, the elderly population, commonly defined as people aged 60 years and older, was nearly 36 million in 2002 and is expected to grow to more than 70 million by 2030. Further, the most vulnerable group of elderly, those aged 85 and older, is predicted to climb from 4.6 million to 9.6 million by 2030 (Administration on Aging, 2003);
WHEREAS, this significant population increase likely will result in escalating incidents of elder abuse and will necessitate a response by justice system professionals;
WHEREAS, elder abuse encompasses both criminal and non-criminal acts of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment, and self-neglect and may have physical, behavioral, social, psychological, and financial consequences for victims;
WHEREAS, many defendants and offenders under community supervision interact with older persons through their living or work situations. These elders may be victimized by acts of abuse, neglect, and exploitation because they trust, depend on, or feel a loyalty or obligation to these defendants or offenders. Elder abuse usually occurs in private, and many victims are unable or unwilling to report it;
WHEREAS, community corrections professionals may have the opportunity to prevent, identify, and respond to elder abuse during the course of their supervision of defendants or offenders through case planning, observation during field contacts, victim disclosure, reports by others in the community, discovery that offenders have unearned funds, and other means. Community corrections professionals, therefore, should be attentive to potential elder abuse indicators when supervising offenders;
WHEREAS, community corrections professionals can always voluntarily report suspected elder abuse to adult protective services or law enforcement agencies, and in some states are mandated to report their suspicions to those agencies. It is further incumbent upon community corrections professionals to collaborate with justice system and community-based agencies and organizations on cases to promote the safety of victims and accountability and behavioral change among offenders;
WHEREAS, the criminal and juvenile justice systems have only recently responded to or acknowledged elder abuse. Currently, few probation and parole agencies have specific policies, training curricula, or systematic methods to help prevent, identify, and track elder abuse cases, and therefore, some agencies may believe elder abuse is an insignificant problem and does not need specific criminal and juvenile justice responses;
WHEREAS, the heightened attention to elder abuse and the potential role of community corrections professionals in addressing it necessitates educating community corrections professionals to prevent, identify, respond to, and coordinate with other service providers in elder abuse cases.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the American Probation and Parole Association hereby endorses and recognizes the importance of taking a proactive stance toward identifying and responding to potential elder abuse, supports efforts to provide professional training opportunities on this topic, and encourages collaboration among justice system and community agencies in providing needed services for victims and offenders.