Foundations for Writing

A St. Cloud State Site for English 191

“Here’s how Stearns is working to improve our jail system”

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This St. Cloud Times’ opinion piece includes helpful data on the presence of homeless in the prison population, collected as part of a Community Action Team’s work. Here’s some information about the Team and why it was formed.

Because of the high number of inmates requiring some sort of medical care, Stearns County, along with CentraCare, Central MN Mental Health Center, St. Cloud Police Department and Mayo Clinic Ambulance, created a Community Action Team. The team’s main goals were to cut down on emergency room visits and jail bookings by identifying individuals who were frequently picked up and brought to either facility, mainly to be reminded to take their medications or to refill their prescriptions.

And here’s a piece of the data the Team collected in the first year of its collaboration:

Stearns County’s Community Corrections Division has seen positive results from six clients in the first year, which included:

  • Four of six were homeless in 2017, with five of the six in some sort of housing a year later. The remaining person ended up serving jail time for their offenses.
  • Five of the six were unmedicated and received intervention by the team. Five of the six were receiving medication management to make sure they kept up on their medications.
  • Average client spent 15 days in detox prior to intervention and zero days after the intervention.
  • Prior to being assisted by the Community Action Team, individuals had 103 police contacts and that dropped down to 28 after the intervention started.
  • These individuals averaged 331 days in jail prior to and 308 after intervention. These numbers don’t seem as good, but one individual had a 104-day sentence at the end of the year review and another had a pending 111-day civil commitment, which skewed the numbers. But at a cost of $212/bed per day, dropping 23 days equals $4,876, which also means a savings to county taxpayers.

You’ll find the full opinion piece at https://www.sctimes.com/story/opinion/2019/12/06/heres-how-stearns-working-improve-our-jail-system/2624432001/.

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