I'm writing this letter in response to the many comments and opinions that have been made regarding the vandalism at Rock Church Cemetery. I couldn't agree more that restitution should be required by the judge. My one concern is people's expectations that these boys will be paying for the destruction they caused any time soon.
I certainly expect that the judge would order restitution in this case. The problem is that we have no idea how long that legal process could take, but we can anticipate it will be months. We don't even have the name of the third offender yet. The cleanup process has started and bills will need to be paid. I would love to see the young men get a loan to pay for the damages, but I can't imagine any bank that would even consider that. When a bank loans a person money there is an expectation of getting regular payments in return. From what I understand these young men are still in high school. Another thing I don't think people realize is how long the restitution process will likely take if/when it is ordered. I have a family member currently receiving restitution for medical bills. Restitution in that case is based on the offender's income. That means that in the months the offender does work my family member receives a check for about $18.50. Other months when the perpetrator isn't working or is incarcerated they get nothing. How long do you think it will take to get that paid off at that rate?
We still don't have the final damage amounts yet. Considering the destruction was to over 100 stones the final estimates will likely be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Rock Church Cemetery Vandalism Restoration Fund was set up to help the cemetery association defray some of the costs of repairs and to show the support of our great extended community. It was definitely not to let these young men off the hook. We want to get the cemetery as close to its original state as quickly as possible. We know people are not willing to leave the mess out there until the judge makes a final decision. These young men have hurt many people...good hard working people that respect and take pride in our cemetery. We refuse to let the criminals take that away from us and want to help in any way we can. I would encourage people to write letters to the judge when one is appointed to this case. That is how we let the judge know how this act of vandalism has affected each one of us in a very personal way and hopefully let him know we expect his sentencing to be swift and harsh.
We want to thank the people who have sent their checks supporting the cemetery and encourage continued support. Donations can be mailed or dropped off at any Livingston State Bank location. One hundred percent of all proceeds will be used at the cemetery.