Justice Department, Department of Agriculture Host Inaugural Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summit
Today, the United States Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture hosts the first Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summit in Des Moines, Iowa. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Secretary Sonny Perdue for the Department of Agriculture announced the summit in a joint statement on June 15, 2018. The Summit will focus on supporting the efforts of elder justice professionals to combat elder abuse and financial exploitation in rural and tribal communities.
“Exploitation of our seniors is a despicable crime,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said. “Under this administration, the Department of Justice has taken sweeping action to stop crimes of elder fraud and abuse, and we are working to do more. Unfortunately, such crimes pose a special challenge in rural communities like the one where I grew up, in which law enforcement agencies can be spread thin and where there often are fewer support services available. Today’s summit reflects the Department’s commitment to ensuring that our state and local partners have the most current resources and robust support to combat elder fraud and abuse in their communities. We all have a role to play in this fight and I am grateful for the support of Secretary Perdue and all of our federal, state and local partners who made this summit possible as we advance the goal of elder justice in rural America.”
“We often talk about wanting to leave this country in better shape than we found it for the benefit of future generations, but too often the care of those from older generations is overlooked," said Secretary Perdue. "The abuse and neglect of senior citizens is something that no civilized society should tolerate. President Trump has prioritized increasing the quality of life in rural America, including in tribal communities, and that encompasses caring for our elderly as well. Elder justice means protecting seniors from all forms of abuse and we cannot achieve true prosperity in every corner of America without it.”
Over the course of two days, elder justice professionals serving and working with older adults in rural and tribal communities around the country will come together to: (1) gain a better understanding of the challenges rural and tribal communities face in responding to elder abuse; (2) identify promising practices, resources, and tools available to rural and tribal communities; and (3) foster greater collaboration at the tribal, local, state, and federal levels in order to serve elders from rural and tribal communities.
Following opening remarks, the first day of the Summit will feature a plenary session that will explore the unique challenges and opportunities associated with addressing elder abuse in rural and tribal communities. Subsequent panels will highlight federal efforts to support rural and tribal communities, as well as innovative practices and initiatives currently being used in rural communities and tribal communities to support elder abuse victims. The second day of the Summit, which falls on National Rural Health Day, will feature two panel sessions. The first will focus on harnessing the power of technology to respond to elder abuse in rural and tribal communities, and the second will highlight tools and resources available to combat and report elder financial exploitation. All of the elder justice resources and tools highlighted at the Summit will be available at the Department’s Elder Justice Website.
The Summit was spearheaded by the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, in close collaboration with members of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. The Department of Justice also worked closely with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the National Adult Protective Services Association.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, The Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. In particular, this past February the Attorney General announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 200 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
Elder justice refers to a society’s response to elder abuse, which includes physical abuse, caregiver neglect, financial exploitation, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and abandonment.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov. Additional elder justice resources, training, and outreach materials can be found at the Elder Justice Website (at www.elderjustice.gov).