Sen. Latz Calls for Stiffer Penalties in Elderly/Vulnerable Adult Neglect and Abuse
Sen. Ron Latz today called for the legislature to enact stronger elderly/vulnerable adult abuse penalties and announced he will introduce legislation to address the issue in the 2012 session.
“We need to respect our elderly as they advance to their twilight years and to ensure our vulnerable adults are adequately cared for,” he said. “We have the responsibility to care for them with the same diligence we care for our children. Our current laws do not adequately penalize those who neglect their responsibilities and cause elderly and vulnerable adult abuse. It’s time we change that.”
Currently Minnesota is one of five states not carrying a felony-level penalty for neglect of a vulnerable adult. The crimes are classified as misdemeanors, which carry penalties up to 90 days in jail as well as a fine up to $1,000. Conversely, child neglect or endangerment laws can result in felony charges, some as serious as second degree manslaughter if the child dies from neglect.
Sen. Latz said he will try to strengthen current neglect laws and stiffen penalties to be more in line with current child endangerment statutes.
“I understand we need to carefully craft legislation to guard against an overly broad statute that might subject nursing home and other care workers to criminal penalties as they try to do their jobs,” he said. “But at the same time, we need to ensure that those who are most vulnerable have an expectation that they will receive appropriate care and if it is not given, those responsible will face serious penalties.”
A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article outlined several cases, some relating to nursing home incidents and others from neglect of vulnerable people living in their own homes.
“In reading the story I became both sad and angry,” Sen. Latz said. “Why would anyone harm an elderly person or a younger, vulnerable adult? These people are at our mercy and can’t help themselves. They need a voice, and I hope to do that with appropriate legislation.”
Sen. Latz said he will work on legislation over the fall to have something prepared for the 2012 session.