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Politics & Government

Dept. of Corrections official: 'Measure positives' when it comes to at-risk youth

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The director of the North Dakota Corrections Department’s Division of Juvenile Services wants to change the conversation about measuring whether the state is doing a good job with rehabilitating youth.

"I am a little passionate about the notion of positive youth outcomes," Lisa Bjergaard said in an interview.

Bjergaard said all too often, the success of a program in corrections is measure by the rate of recidivism – that is, people who go through the system, but later re-offend.

"Twenty years ago, we didn't have research or the ability in our own systems to capture data," Bjergaard said. "That's changed."

Bjergaard said because of that, decision-makers should not focus on who fails.

"We should figure out what works, and we should do more of it," Bjergaard said. "That's the path forward, I think, for our kids and families."

An interim legislative committee is looking at the juvenile justice system in North Dakota.

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