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5 attorneys have ties to Haiti relief efforts

Rebecca Berfanger
February 3, 2010
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Attorneys around Indiana with connections to Haiti are helping with that country's relief efforts following a Jan. 12 earthquake that registered as magnitude 7 and destroyed countless buildings and injured and killed still-unknown numbers of people in an already impoverished country.

While some of the attorneys have been to Haiti - one returned to the U.S. from Haiti the week before the earthquake, and another returned to Indiana the day before the earthquake - others have their own reasons for supporting relief efforts.

A week before the earthquake, Jeffrey J. Newell of Ball Eggleston in Lafayette returned to Indiana from his 12th trip to St. Joseph Church of Pendus, about 120 miles from the capitol, Port-au-Prince.

While Pendus and other villages weren't hit as hard by the earthquake as Port-au-Prince, Newell said the contacts he has still rely on Port-au-Prince to send things like gas, cooking oil, food, and other necessities to villages.

He was among about a dozen others with experience in Haiti who realized it would be better to have one large organization than about 60 individual churches figuring out what to do.

He referred to the saying in Haiti, "men anpil chay pa lou," which means many hands make the load lighter.

Newell added that Indiana has the highest number of Catholic sister parishes in Haiti. Out of 350 Catholic churches in the U.S. with twin churches in Haiti, 63 are in Indiana.

He helped start Indiana Haiti Earthquake Relief Organization, or Indiana HERO, to organize donation drives for money, supplies, and to help coordinate medical teams who will travel to Haiti when it is possible.

Indiana HERO includes central Indiana organizations, churches, businesses, and hospitals with links to Haiti.

More information about earthquake relief is available on the Web site for Newell's church, www.saintmaryhaiti.com.

Another Indiana attorney who was in Haiti shortly before the earthquake was Michael Wilkins of Broyles Kight & Ricafort in Indianapolis. He was on a mission trip supporting Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, www.nwhcm.org, with other members of Outlook Christian Church in McCordsville. He returned to Indiana the day before the earthquake.

It was his second trip that included visits to Saint-Louis du Nord - about an 8 1/2 hour drive from Port-au-Prince - and Beauchamp, which is high in the mountains.

"They provide virtually every social service you can think of," he said of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission's main location. "There's an orphanage, an old folks home, a birthing center, and they provide nutrition" to children and shut-ins.

Since leaving, Wilkins has been in touch with missionaries who are still there. They have reported via e-mail and their blog that within days of the earthquake people who were living in Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake with family ties in northwest Haiti started returning at high rates, which has been taxing on the mission's already limited supplies.

"To read the blog of someone who's been in Haiti for a long time whose favorite expression was 'suck it up,' to see that she said she felt hopeless ... it makes it so real to you. These aren't just people on TV but people we know," he said.

Christopher Stevenson of Wilson Kehoe & Winingham in Indianapolis traveled to LaMare, Haiti, in March 2009 with other members of Evangelical Covenant Church of Lafayette. That trip was affiliated with Covenant World Relief, which his firm has chosen to support. "Covenant is currently using funds to provide emergency relief kits that will be distributed through World Relief International. The kits include food, water, and blankets," Stevenson said via e-mail.

While the village he visited was not hit as hard by the earthquake as Port-au-Prince, he traveled through the city to get to LaMare.

"Having spent time in Port-au-Prince, I can understand the horrible devastation this earthquake has caused. Most of the buildings are poorly constructed and packed tightly together," he said.

To support Covenant World Relief, Wilson Kehoe & Winingham will donate $25 per employee, plus whatever employees decide to give. More information is on that organization's Web site, www.covchurch.org/cwr.

Another Indianapolis attorney who is helping is Leanne McNeely. She is an action advisor for Reconstruction Efforts Aiding Children without Homes, or REACH, an organization that has been raising money to build homes for orphans in Haiti and other impoverished countries.

She said the group is planning a golf outing in Winchester, Va., where the organization is based, to raise money for the project.

She suggested that those who are interested in helping could look up the organization online, www.reach4children. org, or join the group's cause page on Facebook. Photos and information about an orphanage REACH is working with are available at http://pwojeespwa.blogspot.com/, she added.

Bryan Bullock, an attorney in northwest Indiana, is also helping by accepting donations. His firm, The Law Office of Bryan K. Bullock in Merrillville, is supporting relief efforts in conjunction with the Salvation Army by soliciting donations of food, water, clothing, and toiletries to send to Haiti.

"I have always been concerned about the plight of the poor, globally and domestically, and with the situation of the African Diaspora," he wrote via e-mail. "Haiti has piqued my interest for some time because it has the distinction of being the first and only African Diaspora nation to overthrow colonialism by force and gain independence, and yet it has suffered terrible injustices since that time."

To support relief efforts in Haiti following a 2005 hurricane, he raised several pounds of food and clothing through donations from residents of Gary. Those items were sent to Haiti through World Vision.

Bullock is accepting donations until Feb. 14. He cannot accept monetary donations but encourages individuals to make donations to the International Red Cross, www.icrc.org, and World Vision, www.worldvision.org. Contributions can be made to the law office, 7863 Broadway, Suite 222, Merrillville, IN 46410. The Salvation Army will coordinate deliveries of the items. For more information, contact the law firm at (219) 472-1546.

"The earthquake that has hit the island nation offers a unique 'opportunity' to raise the consciousness of people in America to economic and political devastation that Haiti has endured which the earthquake has only exacerbated," he added.

He and others interviewed for the story said they plan to stay involved with Haitian relief efforts for the long term as much as they can.

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  1. OK so I'll make this as short as I can. I got a call that my daughter was smoking in the bathroom only her and one other girl was questioned mind you four others left before them anyways they proceeded to interrogate my daughter about smoking and all this time I nor my parents got a phone call,they proceeded to go through her belongings and also pretty much striped searched my daughter including from what my mother said they looked at her Brest without my consent. I am furious also a couple months ago my son hurt his foot and I was never called and it got worse during the day but the way some of the teachers have been treating my kids they are not comfortable going to them because they feel like they are mean or don't care. This is unacceptable in my mind i should be able to send my kids to school without worry but now I worry how the adults there are treating them. I have a lot more but I wanted to know do I have any attempt at a lawsuit because like I said there is more that's just some of what my kids are going through. Please respond. Sincerely concerned single parent

  2. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  3. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  4. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  5. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

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