Hennepin County Juvenile Center To Close

Feven Gerezgiher reports: 


Next spring, officials will close a juvenile detention center in Minnetonka for good. Assistant County Administrator Mark Thompson says the Hennepin County Home School is no longer the most effective program for helping children. 


“The best interest of the child is to rehabilitate them and get them back with their family, get them back into a functional life, educational systems, social systems, etc.” said Thompson. 


Thompson says children of color make up a disproportionately large percentage of detention center residents.


Ramsey County already closed a similar program, successfully transitioning rehabilitation to community-based options. 


“A busy kid isn’t looking for trouble, typically,” said Thompson. He says youth would be better served by more holistic services and with proactive funding of regular programming.


The Legal Rights Center is engaging community members about how to best redirect funds from the Home School’s closure for long-term success. With millions of dollars at stake, Director of Community Strategy Malaika Eban wants to ensure that youth and their families are supported in community-driven programs, and not shipped out to treatment centers in other states.


“We know that there are lots of community members who are doing this work on the ground,” said Eban, “without the resources from the county because of either the bureaucracy and the long drawn out contracting process, or they’ve always been underground, and they haven’t gotten the recognition that they deserve.” 


Eban encourages people to attend Hennepin County’s youth justice council meeting on September 8 to learn more about the process and voice opinions.


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