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Corrections to begin moving female inmates to Mandan this month

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The movement of women inmates to the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan will begin this month.

Women are housed at the facility in the Dakota Women’s Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in New England, as well as the state Hospital in Jamestown.

Corrections Department Director Dave Krabbenhoft said the first 10 to 15 women will move to the part of the Youth Correctional Center that will be re-dubbed “Heart River Correctional Center.” He said the plans call for between 45 and 50 women to be housed there in this two year period.

"Easier visitation, access to services, access to medical -- all of those things are a little easier to do at a Bismarck-Mandan location," Krabbenhoft said in an interview. "And we have a footprint there as well, so we thing we're going to be able to leverage some efficiencies."

Krabbenhoft said New England will still have between 95 and 110 women inmates for the next two years.  And he said the Department has ended its contract with the State Hospital in Jamestown for housing some of the women inmates.

As for the future of the New England facility, Krabbenhoft said the plans call for it to transition, so it focuses more on the community piece of rehabilitation – those on supervision, and those transitioning back into the community.

"One of the silver linigs of COVID is that it raised awareness of how we can be effective, using technology to deliver some programs," Krabbenhoft said. "We hope to take advantage of all the resources they have at New England, and direct those into the community said of it, so we can prevent people from being incarcerated off of supoervision."

Krabbenhoft said discussions will contginue about whether there still will be a residential mission at New England.

"I think there's opportunities for that residential piece to continue, in a different mission," Krabbenhoft said.

Over the next two years, the Department will look at plans for a potential new building at the Heart River Correctional Center.

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Prison populations

Moving women inmates to the YCC was possible because the juvenile population there has declined. It has opened two of the cottages at the site.

"Research shows that the best way for kids to be successful when they unfortunately hit our juvenile corrections system is to keep them close to home," Krabbenhoft said. He said changes in programming have allowed this to move forward.

"It's things like partnering with school districts to have those resources tghat can make it possible for kids to stay in school and stay connected with the community," Krabbenhoft said.

Krabbenhoft said lessons learned during COVID will affect all of the system's facilities.

"We have made some gains because of COVID, and we know some of those will be given back," Krabbenhoft said. "But we really need to focus on the things that worked during that period, and really try to make them work going forward, so we can keep the number of people incarcerated tgo a reasonable level, and we won't overcrowd our facilities," Krabbenhoft said.

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