DETROIT (WWJ) – A state senator from Detroit is trying to make the penalties stiffer for committing crimes against senior citizens.

“We modeled it after a California law,” said State Senator Virgil Smith, who explained he’s looking to increase prison terms for such offenses.

“Causing great bodily harm to a victim under 70 — an additional seven years; causing great bodily harm to a victim over 70, an additional nine years,” he said. “Causing death to somebody under 70, an additional nine years. Causing death to someone 70 or older, an additional 11 years.”

Smith said seniors are more often targeted for financial, property and violent crimes and he said they have a harder time recovering.

“Our elder population, they’re more vulnerable,” Smith said. “They have a harder time recovering. Say, if somebody breaks in my house and robs me at gunpoint. I can recover, I’m 34 years old, I can recover from that.  But my grandmother, who is 86 years old, she may not recover from that,” he said.

Smith said that seniors also are also increasingly being taken advantage of with phone scams.

“According to the Consumer Law Center, Americans lose an estimated 40 billion each year to fraudulent sale of goods and services over the phone,” Smith said. “The elderly are frequent targets of telemarketing fraud and sweepstakes scams.”

Smith said he’s confident the bill has a good chance of passing.


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