Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dear Gov. Jindal, Do The Right Thing

Dear Governor Jindal,

I was so pleased to hear that you understand and are concerned about the link between dropping out of school and ending up in prison, and that you would like to address these problems.
Every year 14,000 high school students drop out of school. Every year we lock up about 14,000 people in our prisons. I don't think that's a coincidence. -Gov. Bobby Jindal on his initiatives to reduce Louisiana's dropout and recidivism rates. [Times Picayune, 1/4/09, p. A-13]
I was not so pleased to read on the very same newspaper page your plans to stave off a projected $341 million budget shortfall by delaying the opening of a mental health crisis center in New Orleans and by canceling plans to add 6 inpatient beds to the N.O. Adolescent Hospital. You should be aware that a recent study shows that children in LA impacted by Hurricane Katrina currently suffer from physical and mental health problems at rates double that of homeless children in New York City.
NY Times 12/5/08:
...41 percent under age 4 had iron-deficiency anemia -- twice the rate for children in New York City's homeless shelters. Anemia, often attributable to poor nutrition, is associated with developmental problems and academic underachievement.

More than half of those ages 6 to 11 had a behavior or learning problem, yet in the East Baton Rouge School District children can wait for as long as two years to be tested for learning disabilities.

...many of the children of Hurricane Katrina are behind in school, acting out and suffering from extraordinarily high rates of illness and mental health problems. Their parents, many still anxious or depressed themselves, are struggling to keep the lights on and the refrigerator stocked.
Governor, these are the children most likely to not finish high school and then end up in jail, and these are the very children that your budget cuts will hurt most. I think that the Obama administration and Congress would be hard-pressed to hand over $450 million for a new Charity hospital to a state that won't even spend $4.25 million to address the dire needs of its own citizens, needs which should have been addressed 3 years ago now.

Show us that you care about your citizens. Let us know whether a man of God would choose $385,040 in pay raises for 6 Cabinet members already making six figures a year over thousands of families who have nowhere else but you to turn to for survival. Six psychiatric inpatient beds at NOAH will cost $250,000.

Governor Jindal, do the right thing this time.

No comments: