Judge Listens to Offenders to Make a Difference
Ruben Rosario: Getting repeat offenders out of the revolving door
Judge, probation officer meet with repeat offenders to try to change how they think.
What's intriguing about this gathering — on a recent Wednesday evening in a conference room at a nondescript office building three blocks north of the state Capitol — is not the collection of men on probation for mostly drugs, weapons, simple assaults and property crimes.
It's Pridgen and, more striking, Stephenson.
Pridgen, a Philly native, is a veteran Ramsey County probation officer with a caseload of 97 "clients." Stephenson, who grew up on Chicago's South Side, is a Ramsey County judge.
A judge and a probation officer interacting with offenders outside the confines of a courtroom or probation work is a rare sight.
But Pridgen and Stephenson, for personal as well as professional reasons, are stepping outside the lines in an innovative and, frankly, admirable way.
For nearly five years now, on their own time, without fanfare or official sanction, Stephenson and Pridgen meet two nights a month with some of the most chronic "revolving door" offenders.
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