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DOCR houses prisoners in county jails

ND Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations
ND Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations building

The North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is collaborating with county jail administrators and sheriffs to find overflow housing options for male prisoners. North Dakota’s male prison population is exceeding the DOCR’s capacity of 1,624 residents.

Last year, the DOCR began housing inmates at the McKenzie County Correctional Facility in Watford City as part of a population management plan due to overcrowding, but this May, that facility ran out of room.

Colby Braun is DOCR Director.

"We were needing additional help, so just trying to find different ways to do that in the least expensive manner, and then also making sure that the people who are in our care, that they receive the programming and the things that they need. Because most people who come to prison, they have mental health issues, they have drug or alcohol issues, so maybe they need a GED. And then, also just all the other just life skills. So, it's pretty important that we try to make sure that those folks get access to those programs."

DOCR is now looking to the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center in Rugby, the Burleigh/Morton Detention Center, and the Williams County Correctional Center for more capacity.

Braun says the county jails are a short-term solution.

"There's a couple things that we have to do. One, we have to really take a hard look at this legislative session about what our needs are in terms of space, whether it's expansions or what that space looks like for custody of the folks who come to prison. Then I think it's also really rallying up our communities and working together, because a lot of the work that we need to continue to work on, and continue to build upon, is that intervention on the front end, and then really the prevention on the back end, or really focusing on reentry and trying to lift up as much support as we can."

Braun says prison is their most expensive resource to stop crime. He hopes to see more programs and community support for preventative measures.