Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution


    When social programs are raised in today’s impolite discourse, “welfare moms” and “food stamp thieves” are the boogiemen. Never mind the spouse who is at the mercy of a manipulative mate or predatory child. Forget the grandparent who can no longer cope and must rely upon the kindness of strangers.

    Reported instances of elder abuse are on the rise throughout Virginia. As much as some long to ignore the demands of societal outliers or to isolate them by imprisonment and their victims by ostracization, there will always be others taking their place. Family matters are particularly hard nuts to crack. Aging is what it is; and we all walk that road. This is complicated by the very nature of life and relationships. It is made even more complex by changes that can make life experience, which once served as the source of wisdom, all but irrelevant; context changes; capacity changes. And the costs, actual hard money dollar costs in cell space and remedial social assistance, far outweigh the outlay for prevention.

    For Virginia’s Augusta County, an initiative originating at Blue Ridge Legal Services aimed at coordinating scarce resources and preparing law enforcement officers, first responders, and prosecutors to recognize and act on abuse has borne an outstanding opportunity for training and education. The recently formed Augusta County Coalition Against Adult Abuse has organized a symposium June 6, 2011 featuring keynote speaker Paul Greenwood, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County who will address Successful Investigation and Prosecution of Elder Abuse. He will be joined by Linda Matkins, Shenandoah Valley Department of Social Services on Collaborating with Adult Protective Services and Sharon Burnham, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia discussing Federal Prosecution of Elder Fraud and Abuse. Continuing Legal Education credits and Department of Criminal Justice Services/Partial In-service Credit are pending almost certain approval. While Greater Augusta County organizations have priority, the Coalition has arranged a venue that can support participants from across Virginia at no cost to participants. Believe it or not, it includes a “free lunch” too.

    The event will be held at Plecker Workforce Center, Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. Participants may register online. Remember, for Blue Virginia readers, lunch is on me.

    • Is the Plecker Workforce Center named for the infamous Dr. Walter A. Plecker??

      If so, someone might want to push for a name change.

      If you are a Virignian and you aren’t familiar with Plecker, his attacks on Virginia’s Native Americans and the Melungeons of SW Virginia, you need to educate yourself.(And if you have never heard of the Melungeons, well, . . )

      Plecker was a huge black mark (no pun intended) in Virginia history.  Plecker was a white supremacist who pushed “eugenics” — the pseudoscience claiming that “interracial breeding” must be controlled to preserve the integrity of the “white race.”  

      Here are some sources on Plecker:



      Plecker helped pass the 1924 Racial Integrity Act, a strict race classification and law which institutionalized the “one drop rule,” under which any person, including Indians, who was believed to have “one drop” or more of “Negro blood” was designated as Black. A person with no “non-Caucasian blood” was classified as white, as well as persons who claimed 1/16th or less “Indian blood,” which applied to those who had been proud of their so-called impurity: prominent white persons who claimed to be descended from Pocahantas. To be anything but white in Virginia meant exclusion from employment, education, and basic services. The aristocratic descendants of Pocahontas–resentful of being lumped in with “Negroes, Mongolians, American Indians, Malayans, or any mixtures thereof, or any other non-Caucasian strains” twisted arms until the legislature decreed that persons with no more than one-sixteenth Native American ancestry might still be considered white.



      Plecker was a white supremacist and a zealous advocate of eugenics – a now discredited movement to preserve the integrity of white blood by preventing interracial breeding. “Unless this can be done,” he once wrote, “we have little to hope for, but may expect in the future decline or complete destruction of our civilization.”  

      Plecker’s icy efficiency as racial gatekeeper drew international attention, including that of Nazi Germany. In 1943, he boasted: “Hitler’s genealogical study of the Jews is not more complete.”