Prosecutors’ Perspectives on Elder Justice Using an Elder Abuse Forensic Center
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Prosecution is a rare outcome in elder financial exploitation. Previous studies have shown that elder abuse forensic centers—multidisciplinary teams that help investigate and respond to elder mistreatment—increase prosecution rates by enhancing teamwork across agencies. Research is needed to identify what aspects of this intervention model lead to better elder justice outcomes. Six District Attorneys (DAs) were interviewed about their experiences working with other agencies at an elder abuse forensic center (the “Center”) and how participating in case discussions influenced their professional perspectives on elder abuse. Transcripts were analyzed qualitatively revealing three themes: (1) “goal-driven” versus “mission-driven” professional orientations; (2) role blurring; and (3) value added from participating in the Center team. Important factors for increasing rates of prosecution were: (1) having key decision-makers present at the meeting; (2) the forensic expertise provided by the geriatrician and neuropsychologist; and (3) cross-discipline learning. Influenced by the other disciplines, DAs sought goals beyond prosecution as the default approach to resolving elder financial abuse and advocated for interventions that could best respond to the victim’s needs, such as restitution or protection.
KeywordsElder abuse and neglect Elder justice Prosecution Multidisciplinary team Forensic center Financial exploitation
This work was supported in-kind by the participants and researchers and by the National Institute on Aging (NIAT32 AG000037).
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