A sure sign that we are making progress toward a critical mass of effective advocacy is that interaction and cooperation among advocates in different states is beginning to lead to strategies to deal with aspects of the guardianship racket.
In a recent conversation with California advocate Linda Kincaid of CEDAR California, the subject of stay away orders and isolation of the Ward came up. Guardianship Family victims are more than familiar with the tactic of guardians and the lawyers who protect them of isolating helpless Wards from their families as a form of retaliation against interference with their criminal acts.
Two other advocates from California, both the children of celebrities who were taken into guardianship, have been crisscrossing the country promoting their legislation to allow adult children of wards to visit with their parents in guardianship. Some state legislatures have proceeded to propose legislation to deal with that issue. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, the legislation and the idea behind it is flawed. The issue of whether a family member adult or otherwise is being denied access to a loved one in guardianship is purely a civil matter. Complaints to law enforcement and almost any other state agency about such a situation are routinely rejected because they are a civil issue. There is no law that says family members must be allowed to visit loved ones in guardianship. The most anyone can expect from such a complaint even with the passage of visitation legislation, is a court process which can be dragged out indefinitely and is likely to produce no beneficial results. This has been the overwhelming experience of families around the country. We report that we are being abused and law enforcement’s tell us it’s a civil matter, because it is.
On the other hand, isolating a ward from their family is clearly defined elder abuse which is a criminal offense in most states now. While it might take some time to explain the situation to the average police officer, complaining that involuntary isolation is a form of elder abuse and therefore a crime which needs to be investigated is potentially a far more effective strategy than complaining that a family’s rights have been violated. Violating the ward’s rights is a crime.
While this may sound like splitting hairs, complaining about isolation in this way offers a far greater chance of engaging law enforcement on a criminal matter that allowing them to simply blow us off saying it’s a civil issue. it may take educating police and other law and force officials about this subtle difference, but by referring them to appropriate sections of state law indicating that elder abuse is a crime, we will be far more likely to achieve the hoped-for result of a criminal investigation of the Guardian wrongdoing.
AAAPG suggests that family members wishing to initiate complaints about isolation of their loved ones in guardianship research their individual states statutes and print out references to state statutes defining elder abuse as a crime.
In Florida the Statute is 744.359 and 825.103. Other state statutes can be easily discovered and researched.