Putting Well-being & Community at the Center of Justice System Transformation
Alongside the leadership of the community and systems, Ramsey County will strategically align its justice system transformation with community values.
Why this is a priority
Past efforts to reform the justice system are complicated by the history of systems reinforcing the status quo as tools for oppression. Interaction with the public safety system presents a net harm to individuals and their respective communities when criminal records are used to reinforce structural racism through barriers to well-being services, employment opportunities, and housing. Reducing harmful system investments and creating spaces for well-being requires a systems transformation in partnership with community where social services and public health interventions are the preferred solution and justice system involvement is only used where diversions are unsuccessful.
This strategic priority demonstrates Ramsey County’s commitment that the most effective method to create safer and healthier communities for all is through the increase the well-being of our most impacted and structurally barriered populations, particularly within our Black and American Indian communities. It recognizes an accountability for the harm caused to our communities by our current system and takes responsibility for eliminating that harm through structural reinvestment.
Racial equity and shared power
Localized data across the public safety system functioning in Ramsey County clearly demonstrates the growing racial disparities across our public safety system. From entry to exit, disparities for Black and American Indian populations for youth and adults remain the highest across all racial and ethnic groups. Rates of arrests, conviction, incarceration, probation, revocation, and numerous programmatic and procedural outputs all reflect these disparities, regardless of the reforms undertaken to impact outcomes.
Aligning the work of Ramsey County with the values of community continues to be a critical priority. In this work, community engagement is a spectrum, offering a wide variety of opportunities to engage as many community members as possible in ways that feel meaningful to them. This includes but is not limited to community members advising county leadership, co-designing initiatives alongside system stakeholders, participating in town halls, and sharing their lived experience. Additionally, Ramsey County will look for ways through procurement and other means to invest money into community-based organizations, and Black and American Indian individuals whenever possible for contracting of services.
There will be an intentional focus this year to identify key initiatives that engage multiple stakeholders in transforming the current public safety system. A key part of this work will be defining the role of Ramsey County in working to change systems that are outside direct authority. Specifically, we will:
Frameword for justice transformation
Develop and communicate a countywide framework for justice transformation that centers community well-being in partnership with key departments, system leadership and community to identify which initiatives to prioritize on moving impact measures.
Appropriate Responses Initiative
Develop an Appropriate Responses Initiative that enhances and transforms the Emergency Communications Center dispatch processes, public wellness systems (Social Services and Public Health) and community institutions to provide a wider range of options in responding to people in need.
Comprehensive communications strategy
Develop a robust and comprehensive communications strategy to better articulate to our communities the transformation work being done and the intended outputs of making life better for everyone.
- Implement a pilot grant initiative through Transforming Systems Together and with community to advance the vision and North Star of Transforming Systems Together
- Focus on current Transforming Systems Together North Star by deconstructing and reconstructing policies, processes and practices in child welfare and foster care systems that result in disparate impact to Black and American Indian communities
- Expand capacity of Healing Streets into additional community-based strategies, hospitals, and schools for intentional outreach to individuals who have caused harm, been harmed and for their families through grief circles, connection to county resources, and partnership with law enforcement.
- Reinvigorate Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative - partner with schools, government, and community to meet current needs and develop community-based alternatives for young people rather than in the justice systems.
Outcomes and measures
Fewer people engaged in the criminal justice system, with intentional focus on reducing justice involvement by Black and American Indian people:
Less Black and American Indian people engaged with the public safety system
- Total number of arrests in Ramsey County (race disaggregated).
- Total number of people arrested in Ramsey County (race disaggregated).
Less Black and American Indian people incarcerated
- Adult Detention Center average daily population (race disaggregated).
- Juvenile Detention Center average daily population (race disaggregated).
- Ramsey County Correctional Facility average daily population (race disaggregated).
Less Black and American Indian people financially obligated to the public safety system
- Total criminal fines and fees (race disaggregated).
- Bail (race disaggregated).
Reduce justice system involvement and reduce crime by less crime victims
- Less reported crimes
Appropriate Responses Initiative
The Appropriate Responses Initiative is working to enhance 911 Emergency Communications Center dispatch processes, expand public wellness systems and develop community institutions to provide a wider range of options in responding to people in need.