Is Elder Guardianship A New Form Of Human Trafficking?

Dr. Terri Kennedy.   Full article at Huffington Post

As the 71st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations begins this week to discuss international issues that affect the lives of millions throughout the world, the United States needs to step up its commitment to safeguard human rights and promote the rule of law in its own backyard — specifically, escalating abuse in the U.S. Elder Guardianship system.

It’s legal, but is it right?

Imagine you’ve worked hard all of your life and suddenly you are deemed incapacitated and are stripped of your dignity and basic individual rights. You have been abducted from your home, isolated from your family, and “placed” somewhere to be medicated while your assets are being pillaged. The authorities that should be protecting you are the ones committing these heinous acts. It sounds like Nazi Germany, but this is happening in the United States today.

The victims are seniors………………..

The Abduction of Lillie

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 was Lillie’s 88th birthday and her family didn’t know where she was. A week earlier, on August 30, the court-appointed Emergency Temporary Guardian abducted her from a doctor’s office while her niece was in the other room filling out papers. Although Lillie was happy and safe in her Palm Coast home of twenty years, the guardian “placed” her into assisted living and refused to tell her family the location. Lillie was not in danger and there was no emergency situation or other credible justification of such extreme and deceptive action. Video of Lillie from July 30, 2016 — just a month before — shows a vibrant African-American woman enjoying her home and family, and vocal about her financial affairs and this case. In fact, she does not seem incapacitated at all.

Since the case started in 2012, three good doctor’s reports that could have given Lillie her rights back went stale through a legal shell game of loopholes, frivolous objections and unethical behavior. Now, while she is sequestered and possibly sedated, they are pushing hard for plenary guardianship, which would take away her last two remaining rights: the right to vote (she is a registered Democrat excited about voting for Hillary Clinton) and the right to choose with whom she socializes. Over a dozen attorneys and others have been invoicing against Lillie’s assets, while the temporary guardian has not paid Lillie’s basic bills or given her a penny of her own money for food or personal living expenses. The temporary guardian has been neglecting her fiduciary responsibilities and violating standards of practice, but Lillie’s sister and over 50 nieces and nephews are the ones being shut out.

The sudden manner by which Lillie was involuntarily placed in an anonymous location and isolated from her family and support system was likely traumatizing to her particularly given her past victimization. The initial evaluation for incapacity happened in 2012 when she was held captive for eight months at the home of a family friend. She eventually called 911 and escaped. Now, after five years of systemic abuse, Lillie is being violated again — this time by the temporary guardian who is supposed to be her advocate. Getting old is not a crime, yet Lillie is being treated like a criminal. Tonight, she is somewhere alone in assisted living probably wondering why her family has abandoned her.

Captors use social isolation to torture prisoners of war. Social isolation of otherwise healthy, well-functioning individuals eventually results in psychological and physical disintegration, and even death. Nevertheless, the Emergency Motions filed in court to get Lillie returned to her home and family have been ignored.

Florida’s “Liquidate, Isolate, Medicate”

In Florida, there are 5 million people age 60 and older and that demographic is expected to account for most of the state’s population growth in the next 15 years. Yet, seniors who have come to this retirement haven are actively being deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law. The guardianship system oversteps constitutional rights and goes against the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment that forbids states from discriminating invidiously against some of their citizens.

Professional guardianship is considered a “growth business,” with the number increasing from 12 registered professional guardians in 2003 to 456 in 2015, according to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. The abuse is so rampant that the process itself has been called “Liquidate, Isolate, Medicate.” With 40 hours of training and a modest background check, a professional guardian can start earning $85 an hour and have control over a ward’s property, finances, medical decisions, housing and social relationships. In other words, the guardian has the ability to: liquidate your assets by selling your home, car, etc.; isolate you from your family as guardian of “your person;” and put you in a nursing home to medicate you until you die. All of this is supposed to be in your “best interest.” An ABC13 Investigates report dubbed it “The Grey Prison.”

For example, 89-year-old Marie, featured in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Elder guardianship: A well-oiled machine, had her rights removed at the request of her stepson-in law. The court ordered a trust company to pay out some $635,000 to attorneys, guardians and other involved in her case. She survived wartime Poland and said even Hitler’s Germany failed to prepare her for this travesty. Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives Larry Ahern said, “In extreme cases, the wards are sometimes prevented from regaining their competency and remain, in effect, prisoners of guardians.” How many seniors, like Lillie and Marie, are being exploited in this cruel and systemic manner?

Due to a string of horror stories and rising complaints, on March 10, 2016 Governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 232creating the Office of Public & Professional Guardians to replace the Statewide Public Guardianship Office within the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. In April, they initiated rule making procedures to address the regulation of professional guardians, including standards of practice and disciplinary guidelines. These are expected to be in place October 2016. While these necessary changes are underway, what happens to seniors, like Lillie and Marie, who are being victimized this moment in Florida? Will they get a pardon and be set free?

A New Form of Human Trafficking?

Please read the Full article at Huffington Post

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