Justice collaborative works to protect public safety and health during COVID-19 pandemic
As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Ramsey County, partners across the justice system began taking immediate action to address public health risks in our detention and correctional facilities to significantly reduce the possibility of virus transmission. We realized early on that an outbreak in our facilities would not only impact staff and the people incarcerated but could quickly make its way into our larger community.
Since mid-March, the population of Ramsey County’s Adult Detention Center (jail) has been reduced by 54%, and the population of the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (workhouse) has been reduced by 55%. We were able to respond quickly to the pandemic, ensuring public safety while protecting public health, and achieve such significant reductions due to a strong tradition of collaboration over the past two decades on everything from strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence through the Blueprint for Safety to reducing detention of our youth through the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to improving our response to adults through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC).
Together, we are making informed decisions about who needs to be detained because they represent a serious threat to public safety and who can safely be released and supervised via tools like electronic home monitoring and probation staff.
Steps partners have taken include:
- Finding alternatives to detention for those who have committed minor offenses.
- The Sheriff’s Office reviewing current jail logs for immediate, appropriate release opportunities.
- The County Attorney’s and Saint Paul City Attorney’s Offices working with the Public Defender’s Office to review and resolve low-level cases in accordance with newly-drafted Second Judicial District guidance.
- Community Corrections working closely with the Second Judicial District Bench in order to develop appropriate release authority to safely minimize the population at the Ramsey County Correctional Facility.
- Law enforcement from across Ramsey County working with Sheriff’s staff to ensure those brought to jail are only those who are a threat to themselves or others, will likely continue criminal activity, or likely not appear in court.
A new Justice System collaboration and response to COVID-19 page is now available in the COVID-19 section of the our website with a comprehensive list of actions underway during the pandemic to protect public safety and health. The page will continue to be updated in the weeks ahead as additional measures are taken by justice system partners.
Collaborative partner agencies
- Ramsey County
- Board of Commissioners - Toni Carter, Chair
- Community Corrections
- Ramsey County Attorney's Office
John Choi, County Attorney
- Ramsey County Sheriff's Office
Bob Fletcher, Sheriff
- Office of the Public Defender Second Judicial District
Jim Fleming, Chief Public Defender
- Minnesota Second Judicial District Court
John Guthmann, Chief Judge
- Saint Paul City Attorney's Office
Lyndsey Olson, City Attorney