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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
actively involved (AARP, 2001; Moskowitz, 1998b; Otto, 2000). Also, concerns have been raised about state failures to designate an agency with primary responsibility for preventing, investigating, and responding to elder abuse and about the inadequate funding, staffing, and training of such agencies (Capezuti et al., 1997; Dessin, 2000; Macolini, 1995).
Victims Services Network
A number of commentators have noted the limited availability of the victim services network for elderly victims of financial abuse and the lack of resources made available to them. Because these services have historically been targeted for victims of violent crime, it has been asserted that victims of financial abuse are treated like “second class victims” in the victim services network (Deem, 2000). In some states, restitution, case status notification, and prison release information are available only to victims of violent crimes (Deem, 2000). Similarly, it has been asserted that state social service programs are generally underequipped to educate the elderly about financial abuse prevention, to provide prevention services, to address the emotional needs of financial abuse victims (e.g., by providing support groups and counseling), to provide restitution advocacy or to help victims recover their losses, to supply emergency funds, and to otherwise provide needed services (Deem, 2000; Nerenberg, 2000c). Furthermore, there is a lack of referral programs to assist victims to locate services designed to assist them (Deem, 2000). Some states have fiduciary abuse specialist teams (FASTs), which consist of an interdisciplinary group of representatives from law enforcement, adult protective services, the office of the public guardian, the prosecutor’s office, health and mental health providers, and expert financial and legal consultants to help victims recover or to prevent further loss of their assets (Bernatz et al., 2001; Heisler, 2000).45 Of those programs that have been established to assist victims of financial crimes, little systematic evaluation has been conducted of their availability, impact, or effectiveness.
Although Congress in 1984 created the Victims of Crime Act Fund (VOCA) to assist crime victims, victim compensation funds provided through state programs established under this legislation were until recently available only to victims of violent crimes. In 2001, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), United States Department of Justice, issued revised guidelines for implementation of the crime victim compensation grant program (OVC, 2001). Although OVC had been lobbied to specifically encourage
For a brief summary of 12 programs designed to assist victims of financial crimes, see Deem (2000).