Governor Nathan Deal signs bill protecting senior citizens - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Governor Nathan Deal signs bill protecting senior citizens

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Governor Nathan Deal signing HB 78 at UniHealth Magnolia Manor in Moultrie Governor Nathan Deal signing HB 78 at UniHealth Magnolia Manor in Moultrie
Governor Nathan Deal, (R) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, (R) - Georgia
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MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) -

Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill in Moultrie Friday aimed at protecting senior citizens and adults with disabilities.

Supporters say there's been an increase in crimes against people over 65 recently, and they think the new legislation is a step in the right direction. The new law will expand penalties for those who exploit and abuse some of the most vulnerable Georgians and make it easier for law enforcers to punish abusers.

Senior citizens are often the targets of scam artists looking for some quick money. But recently, reports of disabled adults and senior citizens suffering physical or sexual abuse have become more common. 

Friday, at UniHealth Magnolia Manor In Moultrie, Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that should help protect those vulnerable Georgians.

"This is designed to give law enforcement a better handle and a better definition of what elder abuse consists of. And we're seeing an increase in that unfortunately, because we have an older population, and the percentage of our population that is elderly is continuing to grow," said Governor Nathan Deal, (R) - Georgia.

Deal says it was important to act now to stop future abuse.

"And we wanted to make it as clear as possible and this was just simply another effort to tighten the definitions up so that prosecutors would be able to prove cases and be able to punish those who have taken advantage of senior citizens," Deal said.

The bill expands penalties for individuals engaged in the sexual or financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled adults. It also makes more crimes against these people felonies. And Deal says the unanimous support shows the bill is the right move.

"I think that indicates an acknowledgement on the part of the members of the General Assembly that they probably have heard of examples of elder abuse in their particular parts of the state, and they came together and said this is something that really does need to be done," said Deal.

Names of people who report abuse, as well as names of victims of abuse will remain confidential. Most abuse happens at home, and remains unreported.

The Division of Aging has reported 2,100 cases of abuse in the state, and 3,000 cases of neglect so far this year. A

After signing House Bill 78, the governor signed another bill that helps young people who are physically or developmentally challenged go hunting.

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