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Harris County Launches Innovative Program To Help Seniors Who Are Victims Of Abuse

The Senior Justice Assessment Center will offer medical exams, case management and referrals all in one place.

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  • Monica Lara (left) and Malishia Janice (right) sign a pledge displayed after an event to officially announce the Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
    Monica Lara (left) and Malishia Janice (right) sign a pledge displayed after an event to officially announce the Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
  • Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez attended the event to officially announce the Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
    Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez attended the event to officially announce the Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
  • Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Wendy Baimbridge attended the event to officially announce the Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
    Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Wendy Baimbridge attended the event to officially announce the Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Al Ortiz)
  • Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan attended the event to officially announce the Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Photo: Office of the Harris County Attorney)
    Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan attended the event to officially announce the Senior Justice Assessment Center. (Photo Credit: Photo: Office of the Harris County Attorney)

Harris County is launching a first of its kind initiative in Texas to help senior citizens who are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center will offer medical exams, case management and treatment referrals all in one place.

In 2016, there were more than 11,000 investigations of abuse of seniors in our county, according to data provided by the Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults.

Even so, Doctor Carmel Dyer, who works for UTHealth, which will provide the doctors that will work for the center, says these cases are underreported and that is why the program will be useful.

"Having a place where people can go and get some help is gonna increase, I think, the recognition and reporting of cases of abuse and neglect and ultimately, we hope, reduce them," Dyer told Houston Public Media after the press conference held to officially announce the program.

Adult Protective Services will help with assistance and referrals, while the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Harris County Sheriff's Office, along with the District Attorney and the Harris County Attorney, will take care of investigations and prosecutions.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said the initiative is certainly justified because "as senior citizens become more and more a part of the population, we are seeing more and more abuse, not just physical abuse, which is a criminal crime, but also financial abuse, which can be a criminal crime."

The creators of the program hope that sharing the records of victims more effectively will also improve the case management and the investigations.

Besides assisting the victims, another goal is to increase prosecutions because in some cases the victim is embarrassed to press charges or can't remember the details of the abuse.

People who need help for abuse of elders can find the Senior Justice Assessment Center at the Harris County Protective Services building, across from NRG Stadium.

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