Justice Department Invests $3.42 Million in Fight Against Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced more than $3.42 million in funding to respond to elder abuse and victims of financial crimes throughout the United States. The awards will better protect older Americans by improving identification of elder abuse and strengthening the response to victims through innovative technology, closer interagency collaboration and enhanced legal services, among other approaches.

“Every American has the right to be safe,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “Criminals who target and exploit our seniors are cowards, and their crimes are especially shameful because they prey upon the vulnerable. This Department of Justice will not accept these crimes in our society, and we are taking action to help investigate, punish, and deter crimes against our seniors with this $3.42 million investment.”

Nationally representative studies find that nearly 10 percent of older Americans have experienced some form of elder abuse. Elder abuse not only leads to a diminished quality of life, but has been shown to hasten mortality.

“Far too often, older Americans suffer from elder abuse, including crimes of financial exploitation,” said Office for Victims of Crime Director Darlene Hutchinson. “OVC is committed to supporting innovative solutions and responses to these terrible crimes perpetrated against this vulnerable and treasured population. This critical initiative should enhance the provision of services and support to victims of elder abuse and ensure that they receive the rights, services and responses they deserve.”

Funding was made by OVC in close collaboration with the Justice Department’s Elder Justice Initiative. Grants under OVC’s Field Generated Innovations in Addressing Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation program were awarded to eight organizations around the country:

  • Futures Without Violence - STAGES: Strategies and Training to Advance Greater Elder Safety (CA); approximately $500,000 to educate teams of justice and community professionals about financial exploitation and elder abuse and create a shared, grassroots justice system-community vision for elder justice.
     
  • American Bar Association Fund for Justice -  Enhancing and Evaluating Capacity of Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams to Improve Victim Services (DC); approximately $235,000 to build on the foundational Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams model with the goal of enhancing and evaluating the capacity of these teams to improve the delivery of victim and ancillary services.
     
  • Northwestern University - Combating Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Through Technology/DASHBOARD (IL); approximately $500,000 to develop an interoperable and integrated dashboard to share data, risk factors and resources for elder abuse victims.
     
  • Elder Law of Michigan Inc. - Innovation Framework for National Referral System Effective Referrals at the Community Level with Person-Enhanced Technology (MI); approximately $500,000 to develop a framework for a national referral system based on a community-level referral model used in Michigan for victimized and vulnerable older adults, along with research and evaluation.
     
  • Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc.  - Elder Justice Advocates: Improving Outcomes for Elder Abuse Victims in New York State’s Criminal Justice System (NY); approximately $352,000 to recruit at least 50 elder justice advocates from victim advocates and victim assistance staff in district attorney offices, law enforcement units and domestic violence programs in at least 10 regions or counties across New York State.
     
  • Pro Bono Net, Inc. -  Pro Bono Net’s LawHelp Interactive/Risk Detector Elder Justice Initiative (NY); approximately $496,000 to create online tools that enable innovative partnership and outreach models to comprehensively identify, respond to and remedy elder abuse and financial exploitation.
     
  • Utah Legal Services, Inc. - Innovative Remedies to Reduce Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation (UT); approximately $346,000 to educate the public on barriers to reporting by sharing victims’ experiences and challenges in culturally appropriate video and podcast programs in Navajo, Spanish and English; develop and implement tailored legal intervention for high risk individuals; and develop a training protocol in order to improve referrals.
     
  • End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin - National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL)/ Lifting Up the Voices of Older Survivors Video Project (WI); approximately $485,000 to create a collection of video clips of older survivors describing their experiences and insights regarding effective interventions, such as support groups and transitional housing.

“OVC is committed to building the capacity of professionals to respond vigorously and skillfully to crimes against older Americans,” said Hutchinson. “The Department of Justice, through its Elder Justice Initiative, which includes the work of many Department components, is working on multiple fronts to protect older Americans from elder abuse, financial exploitation and fraud. Together, we are increasing the physical and financial safety of America’s older adults.”

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

Original Press Release