Janet Hays: Why I’m with Marlin Gusman (sponsored)

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“Unconstitutional medical and mental health issues have permeated this litigation, and your efforts have greatly helped the Court address those concerns. Our work is not yet completedbut the path is clear. Once Phase III has been completed, a major obstacle will have been cleared toward substantial compliance.” –  Judge Lance Africk addressing Sheriff Gusman’s progress on federal consent decree, Nov. 3, 2021

“I expect a federal court order, such as any issued by this Court, to be complied with, whether it be by the City of New Orleans or anyone else who is a party to that court order. Throughout history, not complying with federal court orders has not been a successful strategy, and we will just leave it at that.” – Judge Lance Africk addressing the City of New Orleans on their refusal to move forward with Phase III, Nov. 3, 2021 

Really read those quotes above and then think about this: a flashpoint in the sheriff’s race right now is whether or not we are going to build a federally mandated infirmary and mental health facility.

I have endorsed Sheriff Marlin Gusman because, as an expert in removing policy barriers for acute mental health disorders and treatments, the Phase III special-needs facility is far more humane than a Phase II retrofit, and because his opponent Susan Hutson’s agenda is harmful to the health and safety of these communities.

For years I’ve worked with families in mental illness crises on alternatives to homelessness, incarceration, death and perpetual revolving doors in and out of ERs and hospitals doors for their loved-ones’ suffering from acute mental illnesses. For the many who lack insight that they are sick and, therefore, refuse medications, every day is a nightmare.

The ideologues behind the Hutson campaign have zero expertise in delineating between serious mental illness and mental illness/mental health. Their agenda is to steer people away from jails and hospitals as they see psychiatric hospitals as carceral.

This is a policy from cities like Portland that promotes a person’s “right to be sick.” The very same thinking drives people with untreated and under-treated serious mental illnesses to dangerous situations and into jail in the first place. When someone is dealing with a cognitive impairment that impedes them from being able to order their thoughts and make decisions for themselves – if we DON’T intervene – they WILL circle the drain.

Susan Hutson would rather send these people to an actual jail than to a specialized medical facility where they can receive safe and appropriate treatment. That is the difference between a retrofit of the jail versus a dedicated health center.

They are pushing an agenda in line with a national narrative that isn’t in the best interest of the whole community, in particular as it pertains to safety and accountability. We must do more to improve our hospitals and medical capacity to provide appropriate care to individuals suffering from psychotic episodes.


But what Susan Hutson and her allies are proposing is literally throwing these people in with the general jail population with no regard for their families, their health, their safety, or the safety of those around them. Regardless of severity of the offense, people driven into jail because of overly restrictive mental health laws deserve a dedicated facility that is designed specifically and humanely to address their needs. Not a jail. The anti-mental health advocates calling for a retrofit have been very effective in their disinformation campaign, but we need to remove emotion and heat from this conversation and see the facts.

This is why Phase III is required. This is why I’m with Marlin Gusman. I’m asking you to vote for him too.

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Marlin Gusman

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