FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 23, 2012
U.S. ATTORNEY BOOTH GOODWIN DELIVERS SENIOR CONFERENCE KEYNOTE: KEEPING SENIORS SAFE IN THEIR HOMES
Goodwin Highlights Efforts to Stem Prescription Drug-Related Home Invasions
RIPLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II delivered the keynote address today at the Robert W. Jackson Senior Conference, discussing his office’s efforts to keep seniors safe in their homes. In the past 18 months, Goodwin’s office has successfully prosecuted more than 120 prescription drug dealers, including several unethical doctors and pharmacists who abused their prescription power to feed West Virginia’s addiction problem. Goodwin pledged to continue his attack on prescription drug addiction, which lies at the root of a frightening trend of home invasions targeting senior citizens.
“Unfortunately, not all our elders get the respect they’ve earned. In the past few years, we’ve seen a growing number of terrifying home invasions that specifically target seniors.” U.S. Attorney Goodwin said. “It’s hard to believe anyone would single out senior citizens for home invasion robberies. It’s hard to believe and it’s downright shameful. But the sad fact is that prescription drug addicts will do just about anything to feed their addiction and get high.”
During his keynote, Goodwin described several home invasions that have occurred within the past year in and around Beckley, Martinsburg, and Charleston that have targeted elderly citizens and were linked to prescription drug addiction.
“My office has worked on taking out a handful of rotten doctors and pharmacists who have dishonored their professions and flooded their communities with pills,” Goodwin said. “We’ve shut down pill mills that were handing out prescription painkillers to anyone with cash for an office visit. I want the message to be loud and clear: If you’re pushing illegal prescription drugs, you will be caught and you will go to prison. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or a street criminal.”
Goodwin concluded, “We’ll continue fighting to cut off the drug supplies that create addiction in the first place. And we’ll keep working with state and local government, and with doctors and hospitals, and with the rehabilitation and treatment community to beat back the flood of prescription drugs on every front. It’s a fight we absolutely have to win for the sake of our state, and especially for our seniors. If we win the battle against prescription drugs, then home invasions will become rare again.”
The annual conference, hosted by the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va., included an appearance by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, along with several other state and local officials. Goodwin applauded the group for their many years of hard work and service to West Virginia and also told attendees that vigilance is important to remaining safe in their homes due to the increasing threat that prescription drug abuse has produced in communities across the state.
Goodwin offered several practical home safety tips to seniors that are commonly recommended by security experts. The safety tips recommended were:
- Use caution and limiting who is aware that you have prescription medications in your home;
- Get rid of old/expired medication; unwanted pills can be dropped off at drug take-back events that are held throughout the year; pills also can be mixed with coffee grounds or cat litter and thrown away;
- Consider purchasing an alarm system if affordable;
- Consider getting a dog to deter would-be intruders;
- Stay in touch with you neighbors and ask them to do the same for you;
- Don’t hesitate to call police if you see suspicious activity;
- Make sure your front door has a peephole;
- If you see a stranger at your door, resist the temptation to open it.
The first West Virginia Senior Conference began in 1970. In 1999, it was renamed to the Robert W. Jackson Senior Conference. This conference was opened to all seniors of West Virginia 60 years of age and older. The conference is an educational, informational, fun-filled three day event. Robert W. Jackson is recognized for his tireless energy and devotion to enhancing the lives of seniors in West Virginia.