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IndyBar: Bar Leaders Impact Community Through Class XI Service Projects

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By Kevin Morrisey, Lewis & Kappes PC

A core aspect of the IndyBar Bar Leader Series is the development and execution of a community service team projects by series participants. This facet of the program gives participants a unique opportunity to take community engagement a step further by putting the knowledge and skills that they’ve learned in the series to practical use for the benefit of the community.

The 25 members of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class XI have split into five teams to perform these community service projects throughout the Indianapolis community. The teams kicked off the projects with a creative exercise to explore their common interests and to identify the topics or organizations for their service projects during the class retreat in September. This year, the groups chose Elder Law, Education, Kids, Animals, and Mental Health as the categories for their projects. The teams then performed research to identify specific issues and challenges within each of these broad categories to narrow the scope of their efforts. The groups have since developed specific proposals and are well on their way to executing them prior to graduation from BLS XI in May.

iba-BLSretreat.jpg Members of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class XI.

The Elder Law Team seeks to facilitate access to nutritional food for low-income seniors. Specifically, this team is working to create a user-friendly electronic “calculator” to ensure that seniors who can qualify for food stamp benefits (SNAP) are enrolled in the program and are maximizing their benefits. The need for screening tools was identified by this team during their research and discussions with Elders at the Table Coalition and CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. The electronic calculator will be distributed throughout agencies that serve seniors in the community. A paper version of the calculator will also be distributed as the team learned many of those affected do not have access to the Internet. The Team will work with these agencies to train their staff to assist the elderly with the using the calculator. Finally, the Elder Law Team will hold a volunteer event for BLS XI to support a local food pantry or agency that serves seniors.

The Education Team is focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. Through their research, the Team discovered that a growing number of jobs are being developed in this area, but schools have difficulty training and preparing students for these fields. This Team has developed a Speaker Series along with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) College Preparatory School in Indianapolis to host a several speakers from STEM fields. Thirty to 40 KIPP Students will complete an application, including a resume, to enroll in the program. Each session will focus on different STEM fields and will be designed to encourage students to think about ideas and actions they can take to overcome some of the obstacles or limitations they face in embarking on careers in STEM areas. Scholarships will be given to two students from the program based on a resume and personal essay, implementing skills they have learned through the program.

The Kids Team will raise awareness of the Indiana Lifeline Law that was adopted in July 2012 by holding a poster contest at Butler University. The law provides immunity for crimes related to underage drinking and public intoxication for individuals who reveal themselves to law enforcement while seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency, which should hopefully encourage young Hoosiers to take action that could save the life of someone in need. The Kids Team will sponsor the poster contest at Butler University and promote the same via various on-campus promotions and speaking opportunities. Ultimately, the Kids Team envisions duplication of this project at other colleges and universities throughout Indiana.

The Animal Team has identified education on responsible pet ownership, including pet adoption, spay/neutering, and pet care, as their focus. This Team will hold an educational community event in conjunction with a pet adoption drive with the Hamilton County Humane Society (HCHS) on Sunday, March 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Great Frame Up, located at 21 1st St. SW in Carmel. The community event will include educational booths for young children with age-appropriate activities, a supply drive to benefit HCHS, booths featuring local dog trainers and therapy dogs, and a themed pet adoption drive (“the Pet Academy Awards”).

The Mental Health Team will partner with Midtown Community Mental Health to expand their Glad Tidings Card Shop project. The Card Shop is an art-therapy based treatment program for Midtown’s clients where the clients create hand-made greeting cards. The program is located in one of Midtown’s largest community mental health centers and serves clients with severe chronic mental illnesses. The cards help Midtown clients develop vocational skills, fine motor and cognitive skills, and general art therapy. The Mental Health Team seeks to host First Friday booths to display and market the Glad Tidings Cards at various locations including the Winter Farmers Market. The Team is also exploring options to display the cards at art fairs like the Talbot Street Art Fair in June. Finally, the Mental Health Team is working to develop materials to assist lawyers when working with clients and individuals who have mental illness and to help them in identifying and addressing mental health issues when necessary.

Now in its 11th iteration, the Bar Leader Series has facilitated a number of service projects touching a wide variety of issues and challenges facing our community. Not only are these projects a valuable component of the curriculum for the Bar Leader Series, but they are also a great way for the Indianapolis Bar Association to give back to the community in a non-legal way. Please keep an eye out for the events described in each project as there may be opportunities for all members of the Indianapolis Bar Association to contribute or participate at each. We thank the 25 individuals in the current Bar Leader Series for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in completing their goals for each project.•

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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