In middle of pop star Britney Spears' battle to end the conservatorship that controls much of her life, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling on the federal government to improve oversight of the country's guardianship system.
Spears has been living under the conservatorship of her father, James Spears, for more than a decade. She testified last week in court that the she wants to end the "abusive" arrangement, which has made her feel demoralized and enslaved.
Warren and fellow Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, on Thursday wrote a letter to the heads of the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services noting that neglect and abuse are possible where conservators aren't overseen properly.
"While guardians and conservators often serve selflessly and in the best interest of the person under guardianship, a lack of resources for court oversight and insufficient due process in guardianship proceedings can create significant opportunities for neglect, exploitation, and abuse,” Warren and Casey said.
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They also called for improved data collection regarding guardianships and conservatorships across the country. They wrote cited a National Center for State Courts estimate that 1.3 million adults are currently living under guardianship or conservatorship.
However, Warren and Casey wrote, that data may be a poor representation as it comes from only a handful of states.
The data not only makes it “impossible to understand potential disparities or disproportionate impacts of guardianship policies related to the race and ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and type of disability of those subject to a guardianship,” but also, “hinders the federal government’s ability to make policy changes and inform resource allocations,” Warren and Casey wrote.