PIERRE—A package of protections for elderly people in South Dakota against emotional and financial abuse won approval Wednesday from the state Senate.
The vote was 35-0. SB 54 now goes to the House of Representatives.
Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, sponsored the legislation last year establishing the task force.
David Gilbertson, chief justice for the South Dakota Supreme Court, had suggested the topic.
"Some people have described elder abuse as hiding in plain sight or a silent crisis," Novstrup said.
The task force made 16 recommendations. Ten are contained in the legislation.
One of the changes calls for emotional abuse to be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,000.
The Legislative Research Council estimated the impact of adding the emotional-abuse misdemeanor at $1,054 per year.
That is based on the likelihood of nine arrests and one conviction per year, with an average jail sentence of 10 days costing $105.40 per day.
Physical abuse or neglect of an elder person or a disabled person is already a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in state prison and a fine of $4,000.
There were 53 physical abuse cases from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2015, with seven convictions, according to the LRC.
The average time served for those convictions was 730 days in prison.
Another change allows financial institutions to report suspicious situations to the state attorney general office.
The LRC report said the U.S. Census Bureau estimated there are approximately 128,000 South Dakotans who are older than age 65.
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Senate unanimous in support for elderly-abuse protections