A letter to New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu – 47 million for a juvenile detention center?

Mr. Landrieu,
I understand that $47 million has been spent on the construction of this juvenile justice center. However, what confuses me is why wasn’t this money spent on rejuvenating neighborhoods such as the Lower 9th ward, 7th ward and MidCity? Considering that these funds were presented to the city for revitalization, it seems not only a waste of these funds but a neglect of the same age group that this center will interact with.
Yet, why not prevent their entry into the legal system with these funds? Why not provide a SCHOOL for job training and life skills in the 9th ward and MidCity? There are far more advantageous measures that can be applied if the goal of this money was to actually benefit and rejuvenate our city. At this point, it seems that our city is more focused on imprisoning the youth than it is on uplifting and guiding them into stronger futures and being positive participants in our society.
I’ve worked with teens in programs meant to redirect youth who’ve committed crimes. One such program was cut by Former Governor Jindal in spite of the statistics that proved the program was successfully preventing recidivism into the courts and jails. Therefore, I have firsthand experience on how such programs function and that they are successful, even with little support from city and state administrations.
Imagine then, what a similar program for teens and adults could accomplish if local officials backed it with $47 million dollars and state of the art facilities? You may or may not be aware, but the people of New Orleans have managed to organize and provide services and support for each other on miniscule budgets, many of them doing so without pay. This is a resilient city in a resilient state, with a culture that reaches out to support each other. Yet, when our government fails to provide but spends millions on services we don’t agree with, it gets frustrating and reminds us that apparently the people are the only ones looking out for the people.
We do not want or need more jail cells for our youth or our adults. We need better managed public systems, job training, and community interaction. A government that ignores the needs of its people is not democratic at all. It’s a coldhearted business focused on its own needs, regardless of how the people are impacted.
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