Abuse of elderly intolerable

Blair County First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks believes Pennsylvania should toughen its penalties for those convicted of abusing an elderly person.

Some people who read the Aug. 31 Mirror article “Caregiver gets prison term for abuse” might have a similar opinion, even though Blair County Court cannot be faulted for the way it handled the case.

The assistant district attorney made the good point that protecting the elderly should be on par with the state’s tougher protections for helpless children.

Weeks explained that in order for elder abuse to be considered a felony under current state laws, a victim must have been dealt serious bodily harm or death.

However, it is reasonable to suggest that there are examples of serious, prolonged abuse where felony charges would seem to be the more appropriate option, even without extensive bodily harm or death having been inflicted.

Having read the Aug. 31 article, some readers might think that felony charges for the case in question might have been more fitting for the alleged abuse that occurred — again, if state law had permitted.

Those people might embrace that thought even though the sentence meted out in court was by no means the proverbial slap on the wrist.

The case’s 75-year-old victim, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, allegedly was dealt “care” that no right-thinking person ever should condone.

Meanwhile, the court sentence meted out was consistent with that thinking, even if some other individuals, Weeks among them, would have advocated a tougher penalty.

That said, it is people in positions such as Weeks’ who have the experience and professional insight to lead the way in advocating on behalf of tougher responses to crimes.

Hopefully, Weeks’ thoughts and recommendations will be noticed by area lawmakers for possible future legislation, if they agree with his viewpoint.

Another option for helping lawmakers determine whether Pennsylvania is tough enough regarding elder abuse would be the appointment of a statewide task force to make a thorough review of the issue.

No right-thinking person needs to be reminded that there is no valid excuse for mistreating elderly or otherwise frail individuals. Anyone who engages in such despicable conduct should be dealt with sternly by the courts.

Weeks can feel a sense of satisfaction for having brought the issue up for discussion, even if no changes to the current sentencing guidelines for the crime in question are implemented.

Proper, compassionate care for the elderly and frail of this state is an issue that never can be accorded too much attention.


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