We work for a transformation and reclamation of our young men’s health, understanding, safety and freedom while they are in these facilities and when they rejoin our community.

 

Sgt. Carter often refers to this work as storytelling and Edu-tainment. Conversations, discussions, lectures, and ‘face to face’ mentoring . We work inside the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC), a 24-hour high secure facility that locks children who are awaiting court processing for alleged law violations or awaiting transfer to a correctional placement or adult facility, and at Boys Totem Town (BTT) a residential program for up to 36 adolescent boys age 14-18 who have been committed to the program by the court for committing offenses. Young men are typically in this facility for 6 months, separated from home, family, school and community .

SOS provides two classes per week at the Juvenile Detention Center, using SOS smelling salt, self-help, motivational materials, bulletins and now, our new SOS motivational videos, as teaching points.

In over 30 years we have met more than 2500 young men who pass through the doors of the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) and long term correctional facility, Boys Totem Town (BTT). Our presence in JDC every Tuesday ensures that young men separated from family during a critical moment in their lives, have access to the compassion and wisdom of the community.

 

Excerpt from a letter from a BTT participant to Sgt. Carter:

Upon arriving at BTT, I immediately fit in, and I was battling for alpha-male position again when I attended my first SOS meeting. Having been told it was a lot like church, I was instantly skeptical about the program. I decide on going because it was a way to leave BTT, not because I had any particular interest in improving myself. Upon arrival, I was disappointed to see that is was not the vacation I had anticipated. I am a fairly good judge of character, and I quickly decided that it was unwise to act up in front of the instructor, Mr. Carter, so I decided to sit back and relax.

Within the fist 30 minutes of the session, I was in shock. I was shocked to have all my views and images of my culture blown apart. I was shocked to hear that the way I had been acting was not even remotely related to my culture. I threw out what I thought were a few intelligent questions and comments defending my actions, and promptly had them demolished. Mr. Carter now firmly held my attention, and I decided I had better just listen. I left that day with a lot to think about, and a lot of questions to answer.

Two weeks later I was back at SOS, anxiously waiting for it to start. I had thought about what I had been told in the last session, and I did not like the results. I was forced to look at my peer’s actions, and my own actions in a whole new light. I did not like what I saw. Being slightly stubborn, I came prepared with questions that I knew would throw Mr. Carter off. I felt these were complicated questions, and I had spent two thoughtful weeks developing them. I was positive that I would find a hole in his logic. I waited until he was at the heart of his sermon before I pulled the trigger. The manner in which he briefly thought, and then answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world really threw me off. After a smart argument in which I found myself playing devil’s advocate, Mr. Carter made a statement that I will never forget. He said, “If you really believe what you’re saying, then I feel sorry for you because you must be one unhappy brother.” I left SOS that day more angry and embarrassed than I had been in a long time. I was angry because I could accept love or hate, but I couldn’t handle pity. I was embarrassed because not only did I know he was right, but he knew that I knew he was right.

After a few months, I found SOS taking an authoritative position in my life. I eagerly learned everything I could from Mr. Carter, and I slowly started implementing this into who I was. I found that these changes fit me much better, and that I was making conscious changes in my decisions and how I presented myself.