Vulnerable Persons

May 30, 2013  | 

The Vulnerable Persons Unit was created by the Attorney General in 2001 in response to the revisions made by the Legislature of the Mississippi Vulnerable Adults Act.

The Vulnerable Persons Unit investigates and prosecutes persons who abuse, neglect, or exploit a vulnerable adult residing in a private home. Mississippi law defines a vulnerable adult as a person, whether a minor or adult whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living is impaired due to a mental, emotional, physical or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage or the infirmities of aging.

The law also established criminal penalties for committing these offenses ranging from one year in the county jail to 40 years in prison.

This unit currently consists of one prosecutor and five investigators who coordinate with local law enforcement as well as with the Department of Human Services to guarantee that Mississippi’s vulnerable persons in private homes are protected.

This unit is also responsible for conducting state-wide training of law enforcement officers , judges, district attorneys, state agencies and investigators at the Department of HS with regard to issues arising under the Vulnerable Persons Act. This training provides insight to street level police officers in the specific areas of recognition of, and proper response to, allegations of exploitation of individuals who meet the criteria under vulnerable adult laws.

Complaints of abuse or neglect of patients living in health care facilities, such as nursing homes or personal care homes, should be reported to the Medicaid Fraud Unit of the Attorney General’s Office at (601) 359-4220 or toll free 800-852-8341.

Who is a Vulnerable Person?

Any person (children included) whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his/her own are or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, physical or development disability or dysfunction, or brain damage or the infirmities of aging. This includes all residents or patients of a care facility.

What is abuse?

  • The willful or non-accidental infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish
  • The unreasonable confinement of a vulnerable person
  • The willful deprivation by a caretaker of services which are necessary to maintain the mental and physical health of a vulnerable person.
  • Includes sexual abuse
  • Does not mean conduct which is a part of the treatment and care of, and in furtherance of the health and safety of a patient or resident of a care facility
  • Includes, but is not limited to, a single incident

What is neglect?

The inability of a vulnerable person who is living alone to provide for themselves the food, clothing, shelter, health care or other services which are necessary to maintain their mental and physical health

The failure of a caretaker to supply the vulnerable person with the food, clothing, shelter, health care, supervision or other services which a reasonably prudent person would do to maintain the vulnerable adult’s mental and physical health

Includes a single incident

What is exploitation?

The illegal or improper use of a vulnerable person or his or her resources for another’s profit or advantage with or without consent of the vulnerable person, and includes acts committed pursuant to a power of attorney

Includes a single incident

To contact the Vulnerable Persons Unit:

  • P.O. Box 220
  • Jackson, MS 39205-0220
  • Telephone: 601-359-4158
  • Fax: 601-359-4420
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