Ramsey County, Minnesota, has a population of 511,035. Its county seat is Saint Paul, which is also Minnesota’s state capital.
Vision for EBDM
Ramsey County’s vision for the EBDM Initiative is:
One less crime.
One less victim.
One less offender.
A strategy for safer communities.
Ramsey County has 13 law enforcement agencies including the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office (Minnesota’s First Law Enforcement Agency) and Saint Paul Police Department. In addition to providing law enforcement services similar to police departments (patrol, investigations, crime prevention, etc.) in seven cities, the Sheriff’s Office is also responsible for operating the 497-bed county jail (pre-trial), providing court services (court security, warrants, civil process), and protecting the county’s waterways. The County Attorney, the County’s top prosecutor, and the Sheriff, the County’s chief law enforcement officer, are elected every four years while Judges are elected every six years. Appointed criminal justice leaders include the Director of Community Corrections, the Chief Public Defender, City Attorneys, and City Chiefs of Police.
The Saint Paul Police Department, the county’s largest law enforcement agency, averages about 240,000 calls for service a year. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office averages approximately 23,000 bookings per year. Ramsey County is a Community Corrections Act county, meaning the county provides supervision (probation and parole) and correctional services. Community Corrections provided services to 24,885 adult offenders under supervision in 2009. Community Corrections is also responsible for operating the Ramsey County Correctional Facility, a 556-bed post-conviction institution, housing inmates serving sentences of one year or less.
Prior to the EBDM Initiative, leaders would meet one-on-one or as part of specific projects with limited scope and complexity, but not as a whole to work on system-wide issues. The Ramsey County EBDM policy team includes the following stakeholders:
- the county sheriff
- the county attorney
- a county commissioner
- the chief judge of the Second Judicial District Court
- the county community corrections director
- the chief of the Saint Paul Police Department
- the chief public defender of the Second Judicial District Court
- the city attorney for the City of Saint Paul
- the county pre-trial services executive director
- the county chief deputy sheriff
- the first assistant county attorney
- a deputy city attorney for the City of Saint Paul
- the executive director of the Office of Justice Programs
- representatives from additional criminal justice and victim services organizations
When we can combine prosecutorial discretion with evidence-based decision making principles, we get better outcomes in the criminal justice system. – John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney
We owe it to the people we serve to be doing the smartest things with shrinking resources. The time is right. – Jeri Boisvert, Office of Justice Programs Executive Director
What I like about this initiative is that it is an external audit of our current practices. We need to move toward public justice; our jobs are larger than public safety. – Patrick Kittridge, Minnesota Second District Chief Public Defender
For me, it is about better outcomes. As public employees, it is our obligation to do our jobs the best we can, using research to do it. – Mary Pat Maher, Project Remand (Pre-Trial Services) Executive Director
We have come together in the past to successfully work on projects, but there has been no real integration of our work. We don’t really understand the strategies that each of us employs and what we truly achieve. This is our chance to get it all out there and figure out if what we do truly drives public safety. – Carol Roberts, Ramsey County Community Corrections Department Director
Harm Reduction Goals
Ramsey County’s harm reduction goals focus on seven areas. These include increasing:
- community safety;
- offender accountability;
- criminal justice system cost savings;
- swift, certain, and proportional responses to criminal behavior/misconduct;
- stakeholder support; and
- community awareness and support.
- To kick off the Initiative, an EBDMI Awareness Event was held to increase awareness of evidence-based practices and evidence-based decision-making as well as to build support across all disciplines. The event was well attended by 225 people representing over 15 national, state, and local organizations.
- Members from every organization met to create a system map of the County’s Criminal Justice System. The map, which details how the majority of cases move through the system, is color-coded by organization and clearly identifies each decision point. Accompanying the system map is a document that briefly explains each organization’s role and involvement in the system. Key decision points are explained and additional information is provided regarding how and why decisions are made.
- Developed a report: Warrants in Ramsey County. This report provided detailed information (warrant types, offense levels, investigating agencies, and demographics) about active warrants and warrants issued in 2009.
- Developed a report: Court Case Overview. By providing a snapshot in time (offenses, charging methods, failures to appear, and dispositions), this report showed that many cases involve the courts.
- An evidence-based practices (EBP) knowledge survey was administered. The scores illustrated a basic understanding of EBP.
- Although funding limitations ruled out the development of a law enforcement diversion program at present, two successful local programs were analyzed.
- Ramsey County formed a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The CJCC serves as a forum through which criminal justice, human service, community, and government organizations may promote best practice improvements in the criminal justice system that transcend various organizations and communities.
- While Ramsey County implemented many best practices during Phase II, additional projects, guided by best practices, were developed to further achieve various harm reduction goals.
For more information on the effort in Ramsey County, contact at Ryan O’Neill at Ryan.Oneill@co.ramsey.mn.us.