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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Editorial: The Crime of Being Homeless Cost Lawrence County Taxpayers a lot of money

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JUNE 3, 2023 - The St. Vincent Store has requested the arrest of anyone taking from the large stash of donated items located on the outside of their facility.

The St. Vincent Thrift Store is located at 920 17th Street in Bedford is designed to help people in need; just not for the free taking.

On Monday of this week, Bedford Police made the arrest of Cody Keefe, who was arrested for theft for taking $20 worth of items from the St. Vincent Thrift store. The reported crime came after Thrift Store employees seen him take the items while viewing surveillance camera footage which occured at 1:55 am in the morning.

The man stated he had fallen on some hard times and needed the clothes.

According to court records he is no stranger to the court system, so this should be a justification for the big crime of theft. Keefe has Level - 6 Felony for Meth possession, resisting law enforcement, possession of marijuana disorderly conduct, and possession of paraphernalia in August 2018.

Keefe has not been the only one prosecuted for the crime of theft from the charity. Back in June 2019, Haven Roll was charged with theft after leaving with one item from the St. Vincent Thrift Store. Roll took several items of clothing that were placed outside for donation.

Haven Roll was arrested in October 2019 after stealing from the St. Vincent Thrift Store

Both men face a Level-6 Felony charge. Of course, Roll has a lengthy criminal history himself with drug convictions. Roll finally pled guilty to the charge of theft in October 2019.

Both men are not upstanding citizens, but neither are the majority of those who find themselves facing drug addiction, homelessness, and needing food and other services.

Many feel that all these two had to do is just ask. But, many Non-Profits in the pretext of their need for grant funding to support drug treatment facilities, homeless shelters, food pantries, and other non-profits who seek funding use the term stigma.

These are barriers with persons with mental health issues, etc. will not seek help because of the stigma associated with it.

Well, this can be said can for the people that are in homeless camps throughout Lawrence County ashamed of asking for clothes.

The Catholic charities in Lawrence County has been recipient of several thousands of dollars each year, in helping Lawrence County's poor.

In January 2023, The Society of St. Vincent De Paul received $25,000 grant from the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation for the operation of the thrift store and assists people in need with rent, utilities, mortgages, transportation and medical care.

In January 2023, The Stone City Alliance for Recovery and Hope which operates the Men's Warming Shelter and is another outreach of the St. Vincent De Paul Church received $200,000 which provides overnight shelter food, clothing, transportation, health care and other services. The men's shelter is only open from November to March of every year.

Father Rick Eldred always quoted the scripture Matthew 25:36 as in the need to help Lawrence County's poor

In January 2023, Becky's Place received $100,000 for the shelter for women all from the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation which was chosen because their mission is in line with the hospital's mission to serve the poor and vulnerable.

Charles Edwards served as President of the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation and has also served on the board for the Men's Warming Shelter.

The St. Vincent Thrift Store the website says " Together we are the hands and feet of Jesus doing his work and serving those he dearly loves. Sharing our gifts is a clear demonstration that people of faith are never alone. When serve God and our church by serving the poor, we really do make a difference," in asking for donations for the organization. The St. Vincent Thrift Store is supported through the Society of St. Vincent De Paul in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Are we truly wanting to help those in need?

The cost of these prosecutions is tremendous on the taxpayer with court costs ranging from $750 to $ 10,000 depending on how long the criminal cases go through the Lawrence County court system.

The homeless population continues to grow in Lawrence County and the petty crimes will have a huge impact on the criminal justice system over the next several years. From the drug enforcement, and theft cases such as these that are fed through the system.

The Lawrence County Correctional facility will have to be replaced in the next few years with a preliminary price tag of $60 Million for the jail facility alone.

The St. Vincent Thrift Store has the option of just giving the criminals a trespass notification for the petty thefts. However, the Catholic charity has chosen to prosecute those who steal from their facility.

The $20 theft from the St. Vincent Facility will cost taxpayers about $ 5,000 for this theft case alone.

Matthew 25:34-36 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Some Lawrence County's homeless will find themselves here at least once for homeless related issues such as alcohol, drugs, theft, and other related crimes. The new proposed Lawrence County Jail will cost taxpayers around $60 Million providing the homeless with shelter, food and clothes

Question : Should every theft case be prosecuted for to the fullest extent of the law?

Is helping the poor just superficial in Lawrence County, or is it a money scam?

How should we deal with the growing needs of the poor and homeless population in Lawrence County with the expansion of the Men's Warming Shelter?

How do you purpose we help the poor?

This is an edtiorial written by: Bill Raines editor of the Lawrence County Zephyr

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