An important piece of legislation advancing through the TN House is the “Safe Seniors Act of 2021,” House Bill 718.
This bill enhances protections for Tennessee’s aging and vulnerable citizens.
House Bill 718 places elder abuse alongside child abuse as a crime that requires a magistrate to make specific findings before setting bail for suspects arrested on suspicion of abusing older citizens. It also makes it easier for prosecutors to take depositions to preserve testimony of aging and vulnerable people. The legislation modifies current law to recognize that many older and vulnerable people are unable to sufficiently communicate to testify that a specific act was painful. The bill makes accommodations to satisfy the definition of ‘physical harm’ to include acts that would cause a reasonable person pain.
House Bill 718 allows the vulnerability of a victim of abuse a factor that can be considered in cases of rape and aggravated rape. It also allows multiple counts of sexual abuse to be a factor that judges can weigh when deciding whether to impose consecutive sentencing. The Safe Seniors Act of 2021 will assist law enforcement and prosecutors by taking dangerous individuals who abuse aging and vulnerable citizens off the streets. Judges will have the ability to ensure sentences for these terrible acts reflect the severity of the crimes.
House Bill 718 is scheduled for consideration in the Rules and Calendar Committee.