At a time when news cycles often carry stories of police interactions with the public—many of them negative—it was a formative day for LSP to come together to better understand the criminal justice system in Saint Paul/Ramsey County and investigate the balance of trust and power in the community, as well as to learn and explore the innovative ways the system is being changed from within and from the outside by a variety of sectors. The class appreciated hearing from Saint Paul Police Chief, Todd Axtell, they were moved by the visit to the Ramsey County Jail, and learned a lot from the panels throughout the day, including very frank discussions of the barriers and systemic racism within the criminal justice system from JaPaul Harris, Hennepin County Court Juvenile Referee and Judge Mark Ireland of the Ramsey County Drug Court. In an effort to have the class continue reflecting on the day after having a bit of time to digest what they saw, heard, learned, and thought, we held a Salon discussion on April 25 at The Liffey. Salons were piloted in 2017 as a way for the class to come together and discuss particularly heavy topics between regular LSP program days and we hope to continue them beyond 2018.
Special thanks to Nicole Coty of Bearence Management Group, LSP 2016, chair of the day and her committee, Sarah Berger of Neighborhood House and Autumn Amadou-Blegen, both from LSP ’16. Julia Jenson, Curriculum Chair and Damon Shoholm, Curriculum Lead facilitated conversations through the day to help the class process what they saw, heard and learned.