“We end up having to release people who should go to jail. We release them to their family or friends,” said the sergeant. Steve Thompson of the Rochester Police Department said.
If minors commit a very serious crime such as homicide or sexual assault, the Dakota County Juvenile Detention Center must remove them from our area. For all other crimes punishable by jail, however, they do not.
“More often than not we are told no. You know Dakota County has its own space issues and they arrest their own miners,” Thompson said.
RPD says they are making this weekly call in Dakota County. When their request to send the arrested minor is denied, they must figure out how to keep the community safe while letting this potentially dangerous person go.
“A lot of time is spent developing a safety plan for the affected family,” he said.
For domestic assault cases, the RPD has said that sometimes the victim of crime has to live knowing that their attacker is not behind bars.
“It’s very clearly less safe. People don’t go to jail for minor reasons,” Thompson said.
The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office says their alternatives to jail are very limited and sometimes non-existent. However, the Dodge Fillmore Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections Office says there are other options.
“Incarcerating youth can cause harm and trauma,” said Amber Myers, program manager for DFO Community Corrections.
DFO Community Corrections said they are teaming up with law enforcement on programs to keep troubled youth out of jail. These programs help address home life, mental health, and addiction issues.
“We are human and young people are human too. And so we have to relate this behavior and how can we make changes to that behavior with what they have been through in life,” Myers said.
They said they would continue to have meetings with the RPD and the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office to help find a route for the arrested youth.