BOISE • A new bill headed for a full hearing would tack on heavier penalties for violence against Idaho’s elderly.

Under the proposed legislation, any violent crime against old people would be considered an enhanced charge and result in a maximum 10-year extension of the prison sentence, said state Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer.

“This was started last year, but we pulled it back to address some of the concerns,” Kauffman said. “We’re hoping this time we can get a full hearing scheduled.”

Idahoans over age 65 are twice as likely to be threatened or attacked with thrown objects, says an Idaho State Police study. While elderly people are least likely demographic to be victims of crime, the nature of crimes against them are considered especially difficult for many victims.

Old people are more likely to be victimized by their own children or grandchildren, with old women having a higher chance of being victimized by one of their relatives.

Kauffman worked with Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter in drafting the bill. Carter said the bill is needed to protect old people who may not be physically or mentally able to defend themselves.

“This is one more tool so that people might think before doing something stupid,” the sheriff said.

The bill is similar to laws in other states, where prison terms are automatically longer if the crime involves the elderly. For example, in some states, offenders who commit a crime against a person over age 60 are subject to a prison term twice as long as the usual term for the offense. In Louisiana, all violent crimes against old people are punished with a minimum five-year imprisonment with no option for parole.

The bill has been sent to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee, but a full hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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