Sheriff’s office starts donation program for homeless inmates

Ramsey County Undersheriff Booker Hodges’ church has a donation program that assembles and distributes packs of basic necessities for people on the street. 

One day, sitting at church, Hodges says he thought to himself, “Well, I’m going to bring this to work.”

Instead of people who are homeless who church-goers find on the street, the packs would be for homeless inmates at the Ramsey County Jail. 

They enter the jail with nothing. Hodges doesn’t want them leaving empty-handed.

There are also those who might have some belongings stashed along a street or hidden under an overpass. But, says Hodges, when they are arrested for something like solicitation, they have no way of protecting their belongings while they are in jail, and often return to their spot to find it cleaned out. 

Though the program isn’t going to fix homelessness, says Booker, it’s good for the sheriff’s office to do something, “if we can do something.”

That something is Booker’s donation program and it’s already accepting donations. Booker says he hopes to have the first packs out to people by the last week of July. 

The program calls for donations to fill out packs containing a white t-shirt, tube socks, travel-size body wash, deodorant, shampoo, a toothbrush and toothpaste, eight-ounce bottles of water, granola and protein bars. All of it would be put in a gallon-size Ziploc bag, of which the sheriff’s office is also requesting donations. 

Sheriff’s office staffers are also donating. The Emergency Communications Center, or dispatch, has started employee fundraisers. Employees that contribute get to wear casual clothing to work for their weekend shifts, says public information officer Becqi Sherman. 

Donations can be made between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the Law Enforcement Center, 425 Grove St. in St. Paul, at the gun permits counter on the ground level; at the Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul, where donations will be accepted by courthouse deputies; at the Patrol Station, 1411 Paul Kirkwold Drive, in Arden Hills, in the public lobby; and at the Maplewood Courthouse, 2050 White Bear Ave. in Maplewood, in the public lobby.

 

— Solomon Gustavo

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