NPR News: For troubled Minnesota youth, a map out of the chaos

Design team instructor Cody Nelson watches the progress of his team's newspaper tower at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul on a recent Saturday. Nelson, who served time in prison for manslaughter, turned to prevention programs to steer himself away from gangs and violence. Richard Marshall for MPR News

Design team instructor Cody Nelson watches the progress of his team's newspaper tower at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul on a recent Saturday. Nelson, who served time in prison for manslaughter, turned to prevention programs to steer himself away from gangs and violence. Richard Marshall for MPR News

Reporting from Macalester: Melvin Carter Jr. On Save Our Sons, Juvenile Detention Alternatives, and Being a “Peace Officer”

1974, Melvin Carter Jr.’s family was hit with a double homicide. He recalls constantly replaying in his head the phone call that informed him of the horrific event. Channeling his anger and frustration into preventing other people from getting that phone call, he decided to become a police officer. Later, Carter, now a retired police sergeant, founded the organization Save Our Sons (SOS), which mentors and supports at-risk African American youth. He was also very involved in getting Ramsey County to implement the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in 2006...

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MN Progressive Project: Changing Teenagers Through Rites of Passage

In persuasion, there is no tougher act than changing a teenager’s direction in life. Melvin Carter Junior and his organization “Save Our Sons” change teenager’s lives for the better, in contrast to the lack of success in the traditional jail-type punishment. I think we can all learn to persuade better from Carter’s experience...

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Daily Planet: Melvin Carter, Jr. is saving our sons in St. Paul

Attorney, David Martin has had a long road to get where he is today. At 16, when he attended Humboldt High School in St. Paul, Martin was, in his words, “getting into trouble.” He was selling drugs and was part of a gang. His grades were slipping, and it was only a matter of time before the consequences of his actions would catch up to him.

That’s when Martin was introduced to Melvin Carter Jr. and Save our Sons (SOS), an organization that works with at-risk African American young men. Well, “introduced” doesn’t accurately describe Martin and Carter’s first meeting. Back in those days, before Carter retired from the St. Paul police force, SOS would perform an operation that they called “Night Raids.” Basically this meant that when a parent was worried that their child was in trouble, they would call SOS, and Carter, an armed police officer, would pressure the young man into making the right decisions. “I was not a willing participant,” said Martin, laughing about the incident now. (Carter said SOS doesn’t do night raids anymore because the demand got too high, and because, since he’s now retired, he can’t be as invasive as he could when he was a police officer.)...

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Pioneer Prees: Ruben Rosario: Former cop reaches out to Save Our Sons

It was 1994.

The Twin Cities were about to get slammed by an unprecedented deluge of gang- and drug-related homicides and other violence. The victims as well as the perpetrators would mostly be black — usually young men rushed to emergency rooms with gaping bullet holes or driven without any rush to city morgues in body bags.

This was a time before placing makeshift memorials at the sites of young deaths became a popular ritual.

Not then. Not yet. The sites mostly were marked with pools of blood eventually hosed down or washed away, as well as “do not cross” police tape pulled down after the proper record- and evidence-keeping protocol was completed.

But St. Paul native and veteran cop Melvin Carter Jr. realized then, before the carnage that afflicted both the Saintly City and, on a much larger scale, the Mill City, that it was time to act.

There were far too many misguided, lost and fatherless kids on the streets, he reasoned. Along with community activist Willie Nesbit, the then-19-year police veteran formalized a youth-mentoring and outreach effort. The two men came up with a catchy name that also denoted the effort’s ultimate goal: Save Our Sons...

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