Updated: September 13, 2021 11:21 PM
Created: September 13, 2021 09:25 PM
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher says juvenile violent crime has risen to a “crisis” level in the county.
The sheriff told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he is putting together a panel of juvenile justice experts and plans to forward an initiative to the Minnesota Legislature in 2022.
“This is a crisis and you can say the juvenile justice system failure is a crisis,” Fletcher said. “And we took 50 beds away in Ramsey County when Boys Totem Town was closed in 2019, and now we have no place to separate these kids from their violent behavior and get them the help they need.”
Totem Town was a juvenile detention center that Fletcher said gave violent juvenile offenders “structure, education, three meals a day and mentoring." It's a program Fletcher said he would like to revive somewhere in the county, if not at the old Totem Town location.
“I have talked with dozens of mothers when their child gets arrested and they’re frustrated and there’s no help from the justice system to help the behavior change,” Fletcher said. “If we don’t restore those 40 to 50 beds for these juveniles, then we are going to continue on the cycle that we’re at.”
Ramsey County Board Chairperson Toni Carter declined an interview request. A spokesperson for the county said this was the first time the board heard about Fletcher’s initiative.
“Regrettably, the sheriff has not taken advantage of the invitation to engage with county and community stakeholders who are working to review, determine and assess current and new strategies for meeting community needs in these areas,” Carter said in a written statement.
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