New bills provide help for crime victims

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Cracking down on elder abuse

A Senate subcommittee has advanced a bill to better protect Iowa seniors from abuse and exploitation.

Many older Iowans can be vulnerable to those who don’t have their best interests at heart. It’s not uncommon for the perpetrator to be someone they know—even a family member.

I served on the subcommittee that took up a bill to get tough on elder abuse. SF 202 is designed to protect those at risk by:

• Establishing the crime of “older individual assault,” which is the assault of an individual 60 or older. Penalties would range from a simple misdemeanor to a class “D” felony, depending on the severity.

• Establishing the crime of “theft against an older individual,” which enhances the penalties for the existing crime of theft.

• Enhancing the civil penalty for consumer fraud committed against anyone 60 or older.

• Establishing criminal penalties for elder abuse, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, isolation or sexual exploitation. Penalties would range from a serious misdemeanor to a class “C” felony.

• Establishing the crime of “financial exploitation of an older individual.” Penalties would range from a serious misdemeanor to a class “B” felony.

The bill is now eligible to be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Tracking provides help for rape victims

Rape victims will get more information and control in a criminal case against their abusers if a bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee becomes law (SF 451).

When the Iowa Attorney General surveyed local law enforcement agencies a few years back, they learned that more than 4,000 sexual assault kits were sitting on shelves in police departments and had not been sent to a lab for DNA testing. The Attorney General’s Victim Assistance Division went to work getting those kits tested.

SF 451 requires all sexual assault kits in Iowa to be tracked from manufacturer to health care provider, to the testing lab, and to law enforcement. Under the bill, victims can follow their kit throughout the process so that they know where their kit is at and what kind of progress is being made on their case. They will also have more input on how their case proceeds.

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