Ramsey County ready to launch new $10 million juvenile justice program
A Ramsey County plan to reform the juvenile justice system now has big support from the legislature.
State lawmakers approved spending $10 million for a program that will help Ramsey County juveniles who have been involved with serious crimes get intensive counseling, mental health assistance, education and job training.
Ramsey County Attorney, John Choi, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the county will oversee up to seven of these residential treatment sites with anywhere between three and five juveniles at each location.
“Intensive, therapeutic interventions, mental health interventions, in a residential setting here in our own community, not in greater Minnesota, and where the door is locked,” said Choi. “So, we can ensure that the young person is getting the help that they need and also not harming other people.”
Ramsey County Commissioner, Rena Moran, told KSTP the idea is to get these kids the help and tools they need to find an alternative to crime and to assist families who’ve been asking for help from the county for the past three years.
“I believe this is a really, really big deal,” said Moran. “We have had parents, mothers, kind of like screaming at us saying help me help my children to be the best that they can be and we know that trauma is real.”
The bill passed with bi-partisan support at the Capitol, according to Rep. Kaohly Her(DFL- St. Paul).
“I just wanted to make sure that kids growing up in this next generation don’t experience the same things,” said Her. “That they have the resources and support that they need, because what a child does when they are young should not determine what is going to happen to them as an adult.”
Patrick Connolly’s wife and child were victims of an armed carjacking in late 2021 and he helped organize the coalition which lobbied for passage of the bill.
“From my perspective, like, there was no choice. We were doing it. We were doing something,” said Connolly. “And, come hell or high water, I was going to get something done on behalf of my wife and daughter.”
The county expects to receive the funding sometime in July and the goal is to open the first treatment site sometime within the next year.