Senior citizens aren’t easy targets anymore.
They’re costly ones.
After much wrangling between the New York Assembly and the State Senate, both houses have put forth a new measure that would ensure that anyone convicted of committing a violent act against a senior citizen will receive a minimum seven year prison sentence.
The new legislation, nicknamed “Granny’s Law” is poised to go before Governor David Paterson in the next few weeks.
The bill was originally crafted by Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden following the brutal, headline grabbing mugging against Queens’ senior citizen Rose Morat.
Her attacker, who was later identified as Jack Rhodes not only attacked the plucky 101-year-old victim in an attempt to rob her of her bag, but then attacked an 85-year-old woman in the same area thirty minutes later, police allege. If convicted of the robbery and assault charges filed by the two women, he could receive up to 90 years in prison, officials said.
Representing neighborhoods with some of the highest concentrations of senior citizens in New York State, Golden drafted his Granny’s law legislation, which required extra jail time to anyone who commits a crime against someone 70-years-old or older.
While the Senate unanimously approved the bill last March, the bill didn’t make a ripple in the Assembly and was shot down.
In turn, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver – encouraged by pressure from key State Senators including Golden — drafted a similar, yet watered-down piece of legislation.
The bill states any assault against someone 65 and older will be considered assault in the second degree, as long as the alleged assailant is at least ten years younger.
That bill passed the Assembly in January. The Senate passed the bill last week.
“We wanted to do something more severe, but this also gets the job done,” Golden said this week. “Our senior population is vulnerable and the older they are, the more they’re targeted by the bad guys, because they aren’t going to fight back and some of their memories isn’t as good as it used to be.”
“These guys [criminals] have no respect for life,” Golden added. “If they attack our seniors and our seniors can’t fight back, then we’re going to have to fight back for them. We want to stop these people from assaulting our seniors.”
Brooklyn is home to several Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and has large senior populations in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Coney Island.
The borough is also replete with disreputable thieves.
For example, just two weeks ago, a 72-year-old woman was grabbed, thrown to the floor and robbed of her purse by a 30-year-old white male as she entered a pharmacy on Cropsey Avenue in Bath Beach, officials said.
The thief was still at large as this paper went to press.
As the bill is currently written, it does not appear that home health aides other caregivers accused of elder abuse could be candidates to the enhanced charges.
Political insiders said that these suspects could face other charges that have been recently upgraded as well.