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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 10, 2019 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

Felony registry would be counterproductive

The Indiana Senate approved a measure to create a felony registry. The sponsor of the measure, Sen. Randy Head, said he didn't want to duplicate the Indiana case management system, Odyssey. And he was being honest.

The intent of Head's registry is to weaponize felony records in the service of public shaming, in much the same manner that sex registries have been deployed against sex offenders. A felony registry is poor fiscal policy and reflects a tendency of Republican lawmakers to empty our state's coffers without too much concern for how to fill them.

The Center for American Progress estimates that employment losses from people with criminal records cost the U.S. $65 billion a year in gross domestic product. ACLU research indicates these losses in turn cost us millions in state taxpayer revenue. A 2015 study by the Vera Institute of Justice found Indiana spent $517,678,909 on its jails and prisons.

The researchers discovered that on average states spend 68 percent of their expenditures on prisons on personnel costs, leaving one to wonder if this isn't a state jobs program for the penal system being backed by taxpayers rather than a public safety measure.

Scott Philotoff

South Bend

Big Brothers, Sisters offers fulfillment

Think back to your childhood. Did you have someone who cared about your well-being and progress? What if you hadn't had that person?

You can be that person for a kid in our community, and it's fun! Make 2019 the year you pay it forward. There are 300 kids on the waiting list in Allen County alone who dream of the day when they are matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister.

The need is great but so is their potential. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana recently launched a new brand built on the belief that children – our future – are capable of greatness. Like a seed, they need nourishment to grow and flourish. That might take the form of extra guidance or encouragement. Hence, we are “Defending Potential.” Igniting Potential. Empowering Potential. Right here where we live.

It's less about the time invested and more about the impact – on both the volunteer and the child. It's not an exaggeration to say that being a Big Brother or Sister is one of the most enjoyable things you'll ever do, not to mention  one of the most fulfilling. (We know this firsthand). You have the opportunity to help shape a child's future for the better by empowering them to achieve. How truly great can our community be if every child reaches their full potential?

In life, often the little things shape up to be the big things. The same holds true in a Big-Little match. You and your Little can share the kinds of activities you already like to do. Play sports together. Go on a hike. Read books. Eat a pizza with extra anchovies. Or just give some advice and inspiration. Whatever it is you enjoy, odds are you'll enjoy them even more with your Little – and you'll be making a life-changing impact.

We offer a variety of ways to engage for all life stages, time commitments and financial restraints. Everyone can find purpose here. Maybe you can even help us connect with your business or employer to schedule a presentation to spread the word. For more information, visit bbbsnei.org/get-involved/volunteer. You may also call the agency at (260) 456-1600.

JOCI PLANK and LAUREN CAGGIANO

Co-chairs,Allen County Ambassador Committee

Big Brothers Big Sistersof Northeast Indiana

Lawmakers duck time-zone discussion

On March 4, the European Union voted to abolish the twice-yearly clock change – i.e., no more daylight saving time. Similar discussions are occurring in Utah, Michigan, Florida, New England, etc., but not in Indiana where, once again, our leaders have disallowed discussion of our time zone situation.

They simply ignored Senate Bill 542 until the time for talk ran out. This means students will continue to travel at risk in morning darkness. Because of our incompatible sunlight schedule, teens will continue to struggle scholastically and their ranking of second-highest suicide attempt rate in the U.S. will continue. Hoosiers will continue to be among the most tired and obese in the nation. Evening events in summer will continue to be diminished because of lack of darkness – July 4th fireworks, outdoor concerts, evenings dining out, stargazing, youth and family camping, etc. And while technology has negated advantages for Indiana's businesses of being on the same time as New York, the three-hour time difference with California will continue to be a communication and travel handicap for Hoosier businesses and citizens.

The purpose of government as stated in Indiana's Constitution is to provide “peace, safety and well-being” for Indiana's citizens. Legislators took an oath to uphold our constitution, but they are not doing their job when it comes to our time zone issue. It's time for them either to step up or step out. Hoosiers deserve better government than we are getting.

Susannah H. Dillon

President, Central Time Coalition

Trump cult follows false narrative

In a March 4 interview on ABC, former Donald Trump lawyer Ty Cobb said: “I think Bob Mueller's an American hero. I think Bob Mueller's a guy that, you know, even though he came from an arguably privileged background, you know, has a backbone of steel. He walked into a firefight in Vietnam to pull out one of his injured colleagues and was appropriately honored for that. I've known him for 30 years as a prosecutor and a friend, and I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy. And he's also a class act and a very justice-oriented person.”

Indeed, many months ago that's what almost everybody was saying about Mueller.

Then the Pied Piper of Mar-a-Lago started playing a different tune; of course, Jim Jordan and the Trumpettes fell into lockstep behind him – as did millions of other members of the cult.

James Cox

Van Wert

Small-dollar lenders an essential option

As an employee of Advance America, I am disappointed by The Journal Gazette's continued publication of attacks on small-dollar lenders and the hardworking Indiana families we help make ends meet.

Advance America and other regulated lenders operating in our state offer Hoosiers a simple, reliable small-dollar credit option when times get hard. We're proud to offer this transparent service and fully disclose all terms of our payday loans, including the one-time fixed fee as both a dollar amount and an implied annual percentage rate. Customers know our fees can be less costly than those associated with overdraft programs, bounced checks, utility reconnections or unregulated Internet loans.

As an Advance America team member, I talk with our customers daily and can tell you about the clear need for our services. We help consumers meet financial obligations that can't wait. And with customer satisfaction and repayment rates of both more than 90 percent, it's clear that our customers understand the costs associated with our service and choose a small-dollar loan because it makes personal and economic sense. Some of our customers would like and benefit from additional options if available, including a longer-term loan.

Consumers always benefit from more credit choices, not fewer, when managing their financial obligations. I hope Indiana legislators recognize the value of regulated small-dollar credit and act to provide a range of services and terms so that Hoosiers can choose the credit option that works for them.

Tachiana Langston

Fort Wayne