At first glance, the headline above may seem puzzling. What do hospitals have to do with climate change? Let me explain.
California’s Central Valley contains six of the 10 most polluted cities, according the American Lung Association. Sadly, Orlando (pictured above) is just one of the many residents of the Valley who suffers from asthma that is largely caused or worsened by the poor air quality. Orlando uses a nebulizer, a device that administers medication in the form of a mist, to treat his asthma during school recesses. In the Fresno Unified School District, almost one in five students have asthma.
In response to this epidemic, Kaiser Permanente donated $20,000 to help the school district buy more nebulizer tubes to treat students. We applaud Kaiser’s leadership on this, but it’s only a start. More not-for-profit hospitals need to act similarly, and most importantly, they need to go beyond short-term assistance and target the root causes of poor air quality in the Central Valley, from car emissions to fuel industry polluters. If Orlando had clean air to breathe, he wouldn’t need that nebulizer so often.
Changes to California's criminal justice laws will be the subject of a town hall meeting in Stockton this week. Fathers & Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ) will host a public forum tomorrow, April 9th, to educate the community at-large on recent changes to the state's criminal justice laws and to funding streams created by the passage of California's Proposition 47.
Prop 47, passed by voters in 2014, reduces penalties for six non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes by reclassifying them from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure also allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences.
In addition, the measure requires any state savings resulting from Prop 47 to be used to support truancy prevention, victim services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. By law, 65% of all redirected funds – estimated to be millions of dollars annually – will pass through the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), 25% to the Department of Education, and 10% to victim compensation.
The passage of Prop 47 is very significant for San Joaquin County residents. Many job opportunities are closed to people with felony convictions. Reclassification to misdemeanors will give ex-offenders a better chance to find employment to support themselves and their families.
Proposition 47 will also help create more alternatives to incarceration by shifting funding to education and mental health services. These changes will lead to more people getting the support they need before they get in trouble with the law.