Senate passes Lombardi bill that criminalizes the forced isolation of an elder or dependent adult
STATE HOUSE — The State Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) that would make it a crime to keep an elder or dependent adult in forced isolation.
The Peter Falk Criminal Isolation of Elders Act (2018-S 2421Aaa) would criminalize isolation of an elder or dependent adult and would provide that certain notification requirements be fulfilled on behalf of elder persons or dependent adults.
“It has become a common problem,” said Senator Lombardi. “Some adult guardians will isolate those they’re supposed to protect in order to retaliate against families who complain or for more nefarious reasons. This legislation would protect adults who may be unable to express their preferences due to physical or mental condition. It effectively makes it a crime to keep elders in isolation.”
The act is named after the late Peter Falk, best known for portraying Lieutenant Columbo on television. His daughter, Catherine Falk, is a national activist for guardianship reform and elder abuse awareness.
Last year, she testified in favor of a law sponsored by Senator Lombardi and Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that passed by the General Assembly that provides persons under limited guardianship, guardianship and conservatorship with rights designed to protect them from mental, physical and financial abuse by their guardians and conservators.
Falk, who created a national organization to work on the visitation rights for individuals (www.catherinefalkorganization.org), watched how her father brought his mother’s caretaker to justice in New York for financial exploitation when the caretaker was supposed to look after her grandmother but instead abused her emotionally and financially. Peter Falk worked with the District Attorney’s office to press criminal charges for elder abuse and financial exploitation, and made a public service announcement about elder abuse.
Under the provisions of the proposed legislation, any person convicted of abuse or isolation of an elder or dependent adult would be guilty of a felony and be imprisoned up to three years or fined up to $3,000 or both. The act also changes the definition of “elder” from anyone over the age of 65 to anyone over the age of 60.
The measure, which is cosponsored by Senators Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) and Frank A. Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903