Opinion

Progress in St. Paul

This letter is in response to statements in last month’s DMC story that questioned whether work done by the W. Haywood Burns Institute has reduced disproportionate minority contact.

Our approach to reducing the inappropriate use of secure detention and racial and ethnic disparities has been to engage the eight core strategies of JDAI developed by the Casey Foundation. This methodology for instituting system reforms is working to ensure equitable treatment for youth throughout the county’s juvenile justice process. Early results have shown a reduction in the overall detention population, a decrease in the average daily population for youth of color and a reduction in the number of youth detained on probation violations.

Though we continue to struggle with disproportionality, we are making progress in working with representatives of affected communities.

The Burns Institute has been our partner in addressing DMC. The Institute has provided invaluable services to us, and we continue to benefit greatly from its assistance. The Burns Institute has clearly influenced our resolve to address DMC beyond the systems reform of JDAI, insist that we focus on the racial impact of all our decision-making, and that we clearly define DMC success. Using the Institute’s methodology, we are clarifying and strengthening community roles and relationships on behalf of our youth, and fostering a deeper involvement of both community and systems volunteers.

The strength of our Initiative comes from the commitment of our non-public and public volunteers to the JDAI process and principles. These volunteers have negotiated their diverse ideas and unique positions into a collectively adopted direction in the interest of better outcomes for all Ramsey County youth.

Toni Carter
Ramsey County Board of Commissioners
Co-Chair, JDAI Executive Committee

Judge Gary Bastian
Ramsey County Juvenile Courts
Co-Chair, JDAI Executive Committee
St. Paul, Minn.

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