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Elder (In)Justice: A Critique of the Criminalization of Elder Abuse

30 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2012 Last revised: 6 Sep 2012

Nina A. Kohn

Syracuse University - College of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2012

Abstract

The past two decades have seen a rapid proliferation of laws and policies that facilitate a criminal justice response to elder abuse. Drawing on feminist critiques of the criminal justice response to domestic violence, this Article argues that the criminalization of elder abuse can protect elder abuse victims and improve public attitudes toward elder mistreatment. However, it warns that by failing to engage elder abuse victims in the punishment process and criminalizing certain consensual interactions involving older adults, the current criminal justice system response to elder abuse threatens to oppress victims, perpetuate negative stereotypes about older adults, and undermine the delivery of victim services. It therefore posits that the debate over how to address elder abuse must move beyond the question of whether the criminal justice system should respond to elder abuse to thinking critically about how the system should do so. Finally, it suggests that the criminal justice system response to elder abuse could be improved by being informed by those working in parallel domains, including domestic violence.

Keywords: elder abuse, crime, civil rights, undue influence, domestic violence, vulnerability, feminst legal theory, prosecution

Suggested Citation

Kohn, Nina A., Elder (In)Justice: A Critique of the Criminalization of Elder Abuse (August 1, 2012). American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2140569

Nina Kohn (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States
315-443-6565 (Phone)

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