U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Crime Against the Elderly in the United States - A Practitioner's Overview and Response

NCJ Number
G Sunderland
Date Published
73 pages
This paper examines the nature of crimes against the elderly, the feelings of fear and vulnerability inspired by those crimes, the dismal record of the U.S criminal justice system regarding those crimes.
Until recently, there has been a paucity of valid data upon which to precisely define problems, design programs, and develop crime reduction plans aimed at crimes against the elderly. More recent surveys, such as the National Crime Surveys, are providing current data, but there remains a need for local ongoing crime analyses to deal with specific local crime problems. Fear of victimization is persistently at high levels among the elderly, but actual crime figures show that the elderly are far less likely to be victims of violent crimes than feared. Instead, they are most likely to be victims of confidence games, purse-snatching, burglary, vandalism, and check thefts. Actual crime figures suggest relationships between victimization and feelings or fear and vulnerability, especially physical, psychological, environmental, and situational vulnerability. Unfortunately, the record of the criminal justice system is dismal. The true causes of crime are unknown. Rehabilitation has not worked. The courts and the police are not able to cope with the present magnitude of criminal activity. Victims are forgotten. Criminals are aware that crime does, in fact, pay and pays well. Some measures which might help to relieve some of the most glaring problems in the criminal justice system include crime analysis as a crime prevention technique, concentration on keeping the habitual felons in jail and on apprehending the most violent criminals, making juvenile offenders repay the victim and community assistance in crime prevention programs. Two sets of references are included, one after each part of the paper. The paper was presented at the Conference Against Violence Against the Elderly, held in Rome, Italy, in October, 1979.