Residents get a say in funding for keeping kids out of trouble.
The Ramsey County attorney's office is asking the public to help figure out how to best spend money on programs that will keep kids from committing crimes.
Funding for programs aimed at keeping juveniles from re-offending is being moved from the county community corrections budget to the county attorney's budget. About $225,000 a year will go toward juvenile diversion programming.
"I really believe that one of the most important things we can do from a criminal justice perspective is get kids coming into the system as low-level offenders on the right track," said County Attorney John Choi.
The funding move was approved by county commissioners last year.
Diversion programs can include community service with local groups, counseling, and mental health and chemical dependency treatment, as well as other options.
Choi said some key topics he wants to tackle are a juvenile's school attendance and performance record, and their home life, particularly the presence or absence of a positive adult role model.
"Oftentimes I see interventions being made for kids, but they're going back home to a really lousy environment," he said. "We want to see what we can do to improve that."
Choi said he also wants to look at how successful diversion programs are, long-term, at keeping kids out of the criminal justice system. Most assessments measure success six months to a year after a juvenile completes a program. Choi wants to measure re-offense rates further out.
Two public meetings are scheduled to gather information on what residents want to see from diversion programming:
•Monday: Parents and community members, 7 p.m. at Little Canada City Hall, 515 Little Canada Road E., Little Canada.
•May 29: Educators, 4 p.m. in the Willow Room of Roseville City Hall, 2660 Civic Center Drive, Roseville.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib