Ramsey County leaders showcase bold progress in pre-trial justice reform

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Ramsey County leaders showcase bold progress in pre-trial justice reform

Town hall meeting provides a comprehensive update and engages community members in shaping the future

Saint Paul, MN – Ramsey County took center stage as local leaders, joined by community partners, presented a detailed report on the significant strides made in bail reform during a Dec. 12 town hall meeting in Saint Paul. Led by  Ramsey County Commissioner Rena Moran, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Deputy County Manager Safety and Justice Scott Williams, and Undersheriff Kyle Mestad and moderated by former Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, the presentation not only outlined the progress achieved but also actively involved community members in understanding the transformative path ahead. Key focal areas included the Pre-Charge Release Process, Community Supports, Sequential Bail Review, and Performance Measures and Accountability.

"This marks an important milestone of extensive collaboration between our dedicated teams and the community to improve our pre-trial justice system," expressed Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "We are now moving from a period of extensive planning and preparation to implementation. Our next steps will result in tangible, measurable changes that will improve safety and justice for everyone in Ramsey County."

Since 2019, the Ramsey County Bail Reform Work Group (BRWG) has been diligently working towards overhauling the pre-trial justice process. The BRWG's overarching goal is to reduce the harm caused by the for-profit cash bail system, thereby enhancing public safety, ensuring equitable court appearances, and contributing to a reduction in the jail population. Key objectives include transitioning from a wealth-based to a risk-based system, reducing reliance on cash bail, and fostering community engagement in system alternatives such as a pretrial assessment tool.

Sheriff Bob Fletcher added, “My experience in law enforcement has taught me that there are some people that need to be in pretrial detention and some that don’t, and how to tell the difference. I also know that the decision should be based on risk rather than wealth. I’m committed to continuing to bring my experience to this effort to ensure the right people are released or detained.”  

The town hall presentation spotlighted four core areas of improvement:

  1. Pre-Charge Release Process: Initiating an assessment for pre-charge release eligibility upon booking, integrating factors like the severity of the crime of arrest and a Public Safety Assessment (PSA), to predict court appearances and maintain a clean record.
  2. Community Supports: Development and funding of community base support services to assist released individuals in accessing basic needs for a successful pretrial process.
  3. Sequential Bail Review: Implementation of a consistent review of individuals in custody to determine changes in eligibility for release options and other circumstances, aimed at reducing the jail population and improving justice system outcomes.
  4. Performance Measures and Transparency: Proposed measures include Population, Outcome Measures, Reasons for Detention, Duration of Detention, Representation & Pleas, and Assessment & Diversion.

Ramsey County Commissioner Rena Moran affirmed, "We have worked tirelessly with our partners and impacted community to highlight challenges and craft creative, meaningful solutions in reforming our pretrial system. Our commitment is steadfast in creating innovative ways to enhance community safety, minimize the harm of the cash bail system, and remove bias from the system."

The information presented at the town hall is accessible on the BRWG webpage. Community input is vital and welcomed through the end of 2024 via bailreformworkinggroup@co.ramsey.mn.us.

The Ramsey County Bail Reform Work Group includes representatives from various sectors, including the Ramsey County Public Defender’s Office, Community Corrections, Sheriff’s Office, Attorney’s Office, Second Judicial District Court, City Attorney’s Office, Saint Paul Police Department, Justice Point, and several community-based organizations, technical assistance providers, and justice-involved community members.

For more information, please visit BRWG webpage  or contact the bailreformworkinggroup@ramseycounty.us

Media Contact: 

Eve Onduru 

Deputy Director Communications & Public Relations



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