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How Florida is helping families of victims of fatal elder abuse

Elder abuse and neglect crimes target one of the most fragile and vulnerable groups that make up Florida’s population. As a result, legislators and activists have kept up efforts to prevent these crimes and impose harsh penalties for those who commit them.

One such legislator, Sen. Audrey Gibson from Jacksonville, has worked to establish a legal structure in this spirit for the last four years. In early June, her efforts were rewarded.

Fatality review teams introduced in Senate bill

On June 11, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 400 into law. According to the Naples Daily News, the law gives Florida the power to create elder death review teams in all 20 of Florida’s judicial circuits.

Each team would investigate deaths within their jurisdiction to determine whether abuse or neglect contributed to the fatality. These investigations can reveal problems with existing elder care systems and institutions, making it easier for legislators to address those issues through policy changes.

According to Sen. Gibson, the increased visibility surrounding elder fatalities should cause individuals to think twice about their actions. The review teams would also provide foundations for addressing elder abuse and neglect cases before they result in deaths.

These review teams mirror the roles of teams that already exist to review child and domestic abuse-related deaths.

The foundations for change have been laid

While Senate Bill 400 grants the court system the power to create these teams, it does not require the judicial circuits to implement the new system. Although the foundations for elder abuse protections are now in place, families of victims should continue to be vigilant about elder abuse and neglect against their loved ones. If you suspect that someone in your family may have suffered elder abuse, speak with an experienced professional right away.

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