Review: Prosecutions of Elder Abuse Down Under Attorney General Brown
The office of California's Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) has dismissed more criminal lawsuits against those suspected of elder abuse, reduced surprise inspections of nursing homes and filed fewer new elder abuse cases annually than his predecessor Bill Lockyer (D), according to a California Watch review of elder abuse prosecutions, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Under Brown's tenure, the California Watch review found that the attorney general's office:
- Cut back both criminal and civil elder abuse prosecutions by about one-third;
- Reduced surprise nursing home inspections in the Department of Justice's Operation Guardians program from 92 inspections in 2006 to 19 in 2009; and
- Scaled back elder abuse training for California's ombudsmen, law enforcement and district attorneys.
The investigation also found that the budget for the attorney general's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse increased from $30.5 million in 2007 to $35.8 million this year, with the federal government covering three-quarters of the unit's funding.
Brown's Office Responds
Brown, who is running for governor, declined to comment on the California Watch review, but officials in his office said there has been no conscious effort to downplay elder abuse cases.
Mark Geiger, who leads the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse, said the decline in prosecutions of elder abuse cases stems from a steep drop in the number of incident reports filed by police and local ombudsmen.
In addition, officials who work with Brown said previous successes in prosecuting nursing home abuse cases might have served as deterrents to elder abuse.
Officials added that the attorney general's office recently has focused more resources on:
- Prosecuting health care providers who attempt to defraud Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program;
- Consumer protections;
- Environmental law; and
- DNA analysis (Jewett, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/23).