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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the Elder Justice Coordinating Council


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Thank you, Allison.

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to this convening of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. I am particularly happy to welcome the Council, for the first time, to the Department of Justice.

Since some of you are new to the building, I want to talk a little bit about the space.

This building was dedicated 90 years ago in 1934 with President Roosevelt in attendance. During the Clinton and Bush administrations, it underwent a massive renovation. But the architects went to great lengths to ensure that the building, including this Great Hall, retained its historic integrity.

In 2001, it was rededicated and renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Building. There is a bust of the former attorney general on the stage.

In this hall, we are surrounded by, of all things, teller windows. Or, I should say, former teller windows. Decades ago, this is where Justice Department attorneys went to get their pay in cash.

Before you ask, that was long before my time.

But times have changed, and the Department has changed along with them.

As this group well knows, elder justice is another area that has required us to adapt.

When the Elder Justice Coordinating Council held its inaugural meeting more than 10 years ago, we could not have known the environment we would be operating in 10 years later. Back then, artificial intelligence, that was just sci-fi. Now, it’s shaping some of the greatest opportunities but also the greatest risks for elder Americans.

Fortunately, our agencies had the wisdom to anticipate that no matter what the future held, our best tactic for combating elder abuse would be working together. And that is just what the Elder Justice Coordinating Council has ensured.

Every year, millions of older adults experience some form of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or fraud.

We know that the vast majority of elder abuse cases go unreported. And that too many victims remain unseen. That is why the Department has aggressively targeted perpetrators of elder fraud and abuse, while providing victims with the support they need.

In the last five years, the Justice Department has pursued more than 1,500 criminal and civil cases involving conduct that targeted or disproportionately affected older adults. We have provided services to more than 1.5 million older victims. And we have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to elder fraud victims.

The Elder Justice Coordinating Council has played a key role in that work.

Today, the Council is a critical vehicle for information sharing and coordination among the federal agencies in their efforts to address elder abuse and fraud.

This has not only enabled us to stay informed of important developments in the field. It has also enabled our agencies to support and amplify each other’s work.

In recent years, the Council has enhanced the reach of the Justice Department’s mass mailing fraud prevention initiative, as well as the Social Security Administration’s Slam the Scam Day awareness campaign.

This February, the Justice Department, with the support of the Council, held the Inaugural National Elder Justice Law Enforcement Summit.

This event brought together local, state, and federal law enforcement to help foster collaboration, both among departments and with elder justice professionals. We know these partnerships make a huge difference in combating despicable crimes against older Americans.

The Coordinating Council has also become an important tool for coordinating with the people we serve. The Council has raised public awareness of a wide variety of issues, including novel elder fraud schemes and promising research on elder abuse.

Threats to elder justice are constantly evolving. Our partnerships have never been more important.

As we confront the expansion of transnational fraud schemes and the rapid advancement of AI, we must work together to make sure that older Americans can live their lives safely and with dignity.

I am confident that this Council will continue to meet the challenges and advance the cause of elder justice — just as it has done for more than 10 years.

Thank you.

Elder Justice
Updated June 12, 2024