Madison County leaders launch Elder Justice Initiative

EDWARDSVILLE – Chief Judge Dave Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons today announced the inception of the Madison County Elder Justice Initiative.

madisoncountylogoThe combination of the aging population, along with the issues of abuse and access to justice, have led to the creation of the initiative, which includes a review of court services and law enforcement efforts available to serve this segment of the population.

The initiative seeks to ensure better access, protection, support and justice for senior citizens in Madison that 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.

Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons announced the creation of the initiative at a conference Friday at Senior Services Plus in Alton. This public event, hosted by the 3rd 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.

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