Prosecutors patted themselves on the back for getting lengthy sentences for four men who ransacked an elderly woman's home two years ago and left her disabled son tethered to the refrigerator.
Later, the attorneys realized they had unintentionally short-changed the victims. Months after the crimes were committed, the family's belongings remained in disarray, and the woman continued to worry that she was being stalked.
District Attorney Evert Fowle said that wake-up call led to the creation of a multidisciplinary group to serve as watchdogs in crimes against older people and against people incapable of handling financial and other matters.
"We want people in her position to be able to get help right way," Fowle said. "Criminals who target elderly people are going to get special focus and scrutiny from this office. We are going to pursue them vigorously, and in this effort we have a lot of partners."
The group includes representatives from nursing homes, legal services for the elderly, sexual-assault groups, adult protective services, domestic-violence agencies, the Attorney General's Office, local police departments and Spectrum Generations.
"Every crime involving people over 60 is inventoried by prosecutors," Fowle said. "The needs of victims need to be taken into account. Resources are brought to bear to see what assistance can be given to the victims."
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Group Taking on Role of Elder Watchdogs