Ramsey County leaders seek $15 million to treat violent juveniles

Prosecutors say kids are increasingly playing a role in violent crime, but Ramsey County has a plan to address the problem.

In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the county wants the state Legislature to approve a $15 million plan to fight juvenile crime with secure treatment and counseling.

The Senate bill would establish at least five and up​ to seven culturally specific, community-based intensive therapeutic treatment homes that provide up to 25 out-of-home, community-based placement options​ for youth who have been adjudicated delinquent.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, along with the support of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, are working to get the measure passed.

Choi told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS these beds would be filled by a court order for the most troubled, violent juvenile offenders in the county and it would include intense developmental therapy.

“Where we would have a secure facility that you cannot leave,” Choi said. “But, at the same time, very, very intensive therapeutic-type of approach that would be very staff intensive, that would be focused on the needs of the kids and working on behavior change.”

Choi said the juveniles would not stay at those facilities and that a release date would also be set by a judge.

“Clearly our rehabilitative efforts, and clearly what we’ve been doing, isn’t working and at the end of the day, we want this bad behavior to stop,” Choi said. “We want people to take accountability and figure out how to move on and get on the right track and not harm other people. And that’s not happening.”

Patrick Connolly told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he fully supports the bill and is working with Choi and Fletcher to get it passed. He and his wife were carjacked at gunpoint a little over a year ago in the Crocus Hill area of St. Paul by three suspects ages 18, 17 and 14.

“Yes, I was mad as hell, and I was like, ‘Lock them up,’” Connolly said. “Again, what they did to my wife is unacceptable, under any circumstance. But you look at it like, ‘Wow, they’re not going to have a life.’”