Amendments stiffen Vulnerable Adults Act

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
April 29, 2001
Victims' rights advocates say people who swindle Mississippi's senior citizens should be charged with felonies but there are currently no felony statutes to protect the elderly against financial exploitation.
During the state's most recent legislative session, victims' rights proponents lobbied for new felony laws applicable to people who cheat senior citizens of more than $250.
That portion of the bill died in the House, said Chris Counts, chairman of Mississippians for Crime Victims' Rights.
The 278-member organization was successful in persuading legislators to stiffen the existing Vulnerable Adults Act and expand the list of people responsible for reporting such crimes.
Financial exploitation includes everything from telephone scams to fraudulent door-to-door sales.
Counts said the bill also now includes background checks for all direct care employees or people who are involved in the hands-on care of patients.
Part of the amended bill also prevents health care providers from "pre-charting" patient records, the practice of charting a patient's record for an entire night at the beginning of a shift.
Counts said although the changes seem small, the amendments to the 1986 law are significant since seniors or vulnerable adults are at an increased risk for such crimes.
Counts said his organization plans to tackle a larger issue next year. Considerations include asking legislators to do away with Mississippi's "truth in sentencing" law. The law requires felons sentenced to more than a year in prison serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
For more information, call Mississippians for Crime Victims' Rights at (888) 343-0466.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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