I’m running for State Legislature because I believe we all have to stand up, right now, and fight for progress — for our prosperity and health, our civil rights and civil liberties, and our security. I was born and raised in Louisiana and grew up here in New Orleans.
Robert McKnight, a native New Orleanian, is a staff attorney at the Orleans Public Defenders office. Robert decided at age 8 that he wanted to be a lawyer and drew interest from Charles Hamilton Houston’s quote, “a lawyer is either a social engineer, or he’s a parasite on society.”
Prior to joining the Orleans Public Defenders, Robert held legal externships at the United States House of Representatives for a Louisiana Congressman, the Texas State Senate, the Louisiana State Senate and the Louisiana Attorney’s General’s office. Robert also clerked for an Orleans criminal district court judge.
Robert is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and a cum laude graduate of Southern University Law Center where he served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Race, Gender and Poverty.
During Robert’s first year with the Martinet Society, he has been extremely active and participatory in multiple committees. Most recently, Robert helped plan and execute the 'Second Line to the Polls' event where information about the different candidates on the ballot were distributed, and fellow New Orleanians were encourages to head to the polls and vote.
We are in a crisis when it comes to mental health in Louisiana. It is unacceptable for our jails to be our mental health hospitals. Robert supports people struggling with mental illness to get the care and treatment they need before a crisis occurs, and that their families and loved ones be partners in helping to address their illness. Robert will support mental health education brought into communities and early intervention treatment centers. To him, that means reducing the stigma for those seeking care, addressing the growing problem of substance abuse, and giving our health care professionals the resources they need to adequately recognize and address the challenges those who live with mental illness must grapple with every day.
Robert keenly understands the future prosperity of Louisiana depends in large part on the productivity and well-being of young people. He will advocate for rational policies and restorative laws that keep communities safe while vastly shrinking the prison population, control taxpayer costs and reducing the social and economic impact of mass incarceration on our state and local communities.
Robert also supports policies aimed at helping job providers create new opportunities for Louisiana workers, and reforming burdensome occupational licensing requirements to allow those reentering the workforce-including those rehabilitated after serving prison time-to better provide for themselves and their families.
Louisiana has one of the highest child poverty rates, the idea of social mobility is even more imperiled when young children do not have the opportunity to attend a pre-K program. Robert will fight tirelessly to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in Louisiana.