Journeys Through Justice: Reinvesting from Prisons to Services

Feb 13, 2017

Here's a simple fact. The number of people in North Dakota’s prisons and jails is growing at a faster rate than almost every other state in the country. Many prisoners in North Dakota are serving time for drug related crimes. And many end up back in the system within a year of their release. A year ago legislators and others with a vested interest in fixing the problems began meeting to draft bills for the current legislative session. For guidance they called on Mark Pelka, who’s with the Council on State Government’s Justice Center.

Committee looking at 'exploding' prison population

Sep 22, 2015

"It seems like every day is a new record at the Department of Corrections. And not in a good way."

That’s how Department of Corrections Deputy Director of Transitional Planning Services Tom Erhardt described the exploding state prison population to the Legislature’s interim Incarceration Committee. That committee is studying the issue of the prison population – and what steps could be taken to help reduce the population.

The House has turned down a proposal by the Department of Corrections to implement an inmate allocation system on a pilot project basis.

The pilot project was part of the Corrections budget bill. It would involve Burleigh, Morton, Cass and Williams Counties. The Department would set a quota for inmates sent to the prison – and if a county went over that limit, it would be charged a daily rate per inmate.

Moving MRCC not cheap

Aug 7, 2014

The director of administration for the state Department of Corrections says his department is still putting together a proposal for what to do with the Missouri River Correctional Center, south of Bismarck.

The MRCC is close to the Missouri River. Some state lawmakers have wanted to move that minimum security facility to another location – and develop the area into parkland. That idea came about after the MRCC was flooded out in 2011.

Dave Krabbenhoft told the Legislature’s interim Government Services Committee the MRCC needs a lot of work.

Study says MRCC should not be co-located with YCC

Jun 26, 2014

A consultant says while moving the minimum security Missouri River Correctional Center to the campus of the state Youth Correctional Center is not a good idea – something has to be done about the buildings at the MRCC.

The MRCC is along the Missouri River just south of Bismarck. The Youth Center is just west of Mandan.

Reducing recidivism rates at the county level

Apr 21, 2014

The state of North Dakota and its two largest counties will be working with a federal planning grant to help reduce the rate of repeat offenders.

Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson has the story.

Former district judge: Get rid of mandatory sentencing

Feb 11, 2014

A former North Dakota district judge says in most cases, he would do away with minimum mandatory sentencing.

Robert Wefald – who served in the South Central district – told the Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration – it should be the judge who makes the sentencing determination.

Corrections director: Leave MRCC where it is

Apr 5, 2013

The state Department of Corrections says it believes the Missouri River Correctional Center should stay where it is – and not be moved either to the site of the main Penitentiary in Bismarck – or to the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan.

The MRCC is a minimum security facility. It’s in south Bismarck – near the Missouri River. The House passed a measure that could lead to it being moved – and the land it is on now be converted to park land.

That’s the idea Bismarck businessman Mylo Candee is pushing.

State Hospital, correctional center work together

Aug 17, 2012

At the time, it was a very controversial decision – to build a new prison facility on the grounds of the state hospital in Jamestown.

But retiring state Human Services director Carol Olson says it has worked out well.

Olson says when the James River Correctional Center was proposed, her department sat down with groups like the Mental Health Association, who were concerned about the mixing of the traditional state hospital patients with people sentenced to prison.