Chief Judge Dave Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons have announced the inception of the Madison County Elder Justice Initiative.
The combination of the aging population becoming a larger percent of our population, along with the issues of abuse and access to justice, have led to the creation of the Madison County Elder Justice Initiative (MCEJI) and a review of court services and law enforcement efforts available to serve this segment of the population in Madison County.
The Madison County Elder Justice Initiative seeks to ensure better access, protection, support, and justice for senior citizens in Madison County, including those who have experienced any form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
This collaborative partnership between local law enforcement, county government agencies, elder protective services, and senior community advocates works to identify and address common barriers in a variety of areas related to the aging population in our community – from improving Court accessibility, to enhancing the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of crimes against some of our most vulnerable residents.
The National Council on Aging reports that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, but only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. The first step in this process is to begin an education initiative designed to enhance the public’s awareness of abuse, exploitation, and neglect of elder persons; promote a better understanding of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes which affect elder abuse; and identify steps we can take as a community to identify and prevent cases of elder abuse.
To assist with navigating the Court system, the Elder Law & Justice Division strives to provide seniors with later docket times, accessible courtrooms, and consolidation of cases, as needed.
“I am proud that our Judges in Madison County are joining with law enforcement to take more steps to assist the elderly and continue to give them the dignity and respect they so much deserve,” said Chief Judge Dave Hylla.
Chief Judge Dave Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons announced the creation of the MCEJI on Friday afternoon at the “2017 Understanding Elder Abuse: Protect Our Seniors” Conference at Senior Services Plus in Alton. This public event, hosted by the Third Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council, Oasis Women’s Center, Senior Services Plus,
Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Alton Police Department and AARP, provided attendees with information to heighten awareness about elder abuse and increase the ability to recognize and report incidents, including a presentation by Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder and State’s Attorney Gibbons.
“As public servants, it must always be our mission to work together for the benefit of the citizens we serve. This collaboration brings together a multidisciplinary team dedicated to enhancing access to justice on all levels for seniors.” Gibbons offered a message to residents, stating “We are fighting together every day to make our justice system work for you!”