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IP attorney heads fundraising campaign for United Way

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An Indianapolis attorney has taken on a nontraditional pro bono role, on top of his practicing intellectual property law at one of the city's largest firms.

Possibly the first practicing attorney to take on a task of this nature, veteran lawyer Don Knebel has set out as the 2010 campaign chair to expand the United Way donor base and raise as much as $40 million this year in central Indiana, which includes Marion and the surrounding counties.

He hopes to inspire both business and community members to offer more charitable contributions and get the legal community more involved than it has been, while branching out from those businesses and individuals who may not have contributed in the past. All are tough tasks in this struggling economy, but Knebel is confident that he can use his legal experience to help boost the amount of money and number of donors from years past.

"The motto last year was for the community to step up and increase donations despite the economy, but mine is that we're all in this together," said the Barnes & Thornburg partner who chairs the firm's IP group. "We all have people in our community who are less fortunate, and we all have to be a part of helping out."

Knebel took over the campaign chair role March 25, but this is the latest in a line of growing leadership roles that Knebel has held for the non-profit organization. Looking back on his involvement through the years, Knebel said he's proud to have finally stepped up and taken more of a leadership role. When he joined Barnes & Thornburg in 1974, his annual contribution was about $100 and that gradually increased through the years.

"I was not a particularly energetic contributor," he said. "But as the years went by, that changed."

At Barnes & Thornburg, Knebel volunteered on the firm's fundraising campaign through the years, helping to create an internal matching program for more involvement and working to get more associates involved, according to partner Wendy Brewer, who co-chairs the firm's United Way campaign. Contributions have nearly doubled in the past five years as a result, she said.

"Since Don's gotten involved, we've had more focus on fundraising here," Brewer said. "We've doubled what the firm's been giving through our attorneys, not the firm writing a check, and it's great to have him as an ally on this both internally but also as one of the emerging leaders of the overall United Way program."

In 2005 and 2007, Knebel chaired the United Way Tocqueville Society, a group of people willing to contribute at least $10,000 a year to the organization. He increased the number of donors to that high-dollar society during the two-year period, and as a result of that leadership and success, the United Way management decided to ask him to lead the central Indiana campaign.

"When you're a good volunteer, we don't let those people go at United Way," said Ellen Annala, United Way president and chief executive officer. "We wouldn't call Don a campaign chair in training, but he's got all the hallmarks of that. He did such a good job, and that's why he surfaced in leadership for United Way. He is very strategic and goal oriented, and he has the drive and organization to structure this campaign remarkably."

When the idea first surfaced more than a year ago, Knebel said he wasn't initially convinced that he was qualified or the best person for the task. Traditionally, the role has been filled by a high-level company executive, he said. But as he thought more about it, he determined that if he weren't able to step up, it wouldn't be appropriate to ask others to take on that role. With 36 years of experience as an attorney, Knebel admitted he may have some credibility to offer in doing this.

"As a lawyer, you get experience in organizing and pulling people together and presenting cases that resonate with people," he said. "That is what my job is here. To identify people and bring them together to get involved in the campaign, and get them enthused about the campaign."

With the tough economy and struggling business world, Knebel knows he has challenges to overcome. The United Way has raised considerable amounts of money in past years but has fallen shy of its goals for the past two years - $38.8 million of the $39 million goal last year, and $38.8 million of the $40 million goal in 2008. The $39 million goal was met in 2007, figures show.

During the past eight years, donor numbers have dwindled from 100,000 to 80,000 as larger companies have closed or cut back, and employees who may have contributed have either slashed their charitable giving or moved on to smaller businesses or into different areas, Knebel said.

Setting a fundraising goal doesn't happen until June, but Knebel has already filled his volunteer roster of cabinet members to handle specific areas such as life sciences, information technology, logistics, and manufacturing, he said. The cabinet members have monthly meetings, and Knebel said he's currently spending about 5 to 10 hours a week coordinating the United Way tasks on top of his own legal work.

So far, Knebel said the most gratifying part of this experience is increasing the visibility of this fundraising campaign and watching more people get excited about United Way. When the campaign began last fall, he said the little visibility in the community meant that anyone interested in knowing the status would basically have to drive to the office on North Meridian Street to look at the big fundraising thermometer.

That's changing overall, he said. But one area he hopes to personally focus on is the Indianapolis-area legal community, which by comparison doesn't contribute or get as involved as comparable markets, such as Atlanta. The central Indiana legal community gave $300,000 last year, up from the $130,000 five years ago.

That's positive growth, but Knebel said it pales in comparison to the likes of Eli Lilly, which raises about $9 million from employees.

"I know it's possible for our lawyers to be a bigger part of this, and one of my objectives is to make lawyers and firms see their obligation to the community," he said. "When the community looks back on my tenure in doing this, I hope we'll be as proud of the lawyers as anyone else in the community."

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  1. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  2. A high ranking bureaucrat with Ind sup court is heading up an organization celebrating the formal N word!!! She must resign and denounce! http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  3. ND2019, don't try to confuse the Left with facts. Their ideologies trump facts, trump due process, trump court rules, even trump federal statutes. I hold the proof if interested. Facts matter only to those who are not on an agenda-first mission.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

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