Target: Lindel Toups, Lafourche Parish Council Member
Goal: Commend Lafourche residents for prioritizing libraries and public education over building a new jail
Residents of the southern Louisiana parish of Lafourche saved their public libraries from losing their funding to a building project—a $25 million jail. More than 1,200 residents voted against funding the new jail at the expense of the library. The public libraries could have lost $800,000 a year for the next 30 years, significantly damaging their budget.
The Lafourche library system provides crucial services to its residents, and is funded by residents’ tax dollars. Over half of all Lafourche residents do not have home internet service, and about half have their own library card. Lafourche libraries use funding for building costs, internet costs, and for technology that residents request, like e-books and library computers and printers.
Lindel Toups, a Lafourche council member, pushed for the new jail to be built while serving as chair to the “New Jail Committee.” Toups said that the library had plenty of funding, and that the library funding is “an area that we don’t think is absolutely necessary.” Toups made racially offensive comments, saying that the library was using its resources to teach Spanish-speaking immigrants how to speak English, and that the community’s lower-income residents were using the computers to apply for food stamps. He feels this funding would be better put to use in a local prison. There has been talk that Toups’ own family members are allegedly incarcerated, possibly adding to his motivation to open a new jail in town. Toups’ son and grandson were reportedly charged in 2009 with drug possession.
There is evidence that Lafourche could use a new detention center, as its current jail is outdated, structurally unsound, and overflowing with inmates. However, funding for such a project should not come out of the pocket of the local library, the one place that is making strides to equip those in need with the resources necessary to keep them out of trouble. Commend Lafourche residents for standing up for what is right in their community, and demand that Lindel Toups revise his stance on the new jail.
Dear Lindel Toups,
Thanks to the residents of Lafourche, the new jail project will not be stealing millions of dollars from the library system, a community center that offers programs to residents that potentially keep them out of jail in the first place. Though it is true that your community needs a new jail, it should not be built at the expense of the public library system.
Your racially charged remarks against members of your community are appalling and unnecessary. The library provides services to all people that are relevant and important to their success; whether it be language classes or internet service, these services provide priceless opportunities for people who otherwise would not be able to learn English or apply for food assistance. You must begin to recognize the value of your library system, and find ways to improve the services that they provide to the community. Invest money in your community’s future rather than in holding criminals in a jail cell.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Zanimum via Wikimedia