African American males make up a vastly disproportionate segment of incarcerated and institutionalized youth in Ramsey County. Research now illustrates what our families have felt for some time: this is not rehabilitation but rather a pipeline to prison. Community urgency to interrupt this has to be heard and to be felt if we are going to find the meaningful solutions that we need.
In 2006 Ramsey County Corrections embarked on the Annie E. Casey model of juvenile detention reform known as Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). Stakeholders from all corners of the criminal justice system, schools, and community service agencies pulled together to address over use of detention, save dollars, and correct disproportionate minority contact (DMC) using this reform pathway.
SOS leadership stepped in to insert a voice from impacted community in this reform effort. We have served on various JDAI committees for the past 12 years including Stakeholder Committee; Steering Committee; and chairing the original Alternatives Sub-Committee.
Our efforts led to a 70% decrease in youth confined in detention. Before this reform work more than 90 youth were held in the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC), a highly prison like building with cement cells, iron doors with bars, and a high level of physical and psychological isolation. Today the numbers are typically 25 – 35 per night. Still too high!
In 2010, Sgt. Carter received the Natalie S. Bimel Award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Outstanding Contributions to Juvenile Detention Reform by a Community Member for his work advancing social justice for communities of color.