HB 1041 looks to redirect and reinvest funds from the state jails and put that money towards treatment programs. The hopes are that long term, this will lower crime and incarcerations numbers.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem played a key role in writing this bill up.
Wayne Stenehjem: “I think what is important to know about this bill and other legislation, that we are going to redirect and reinvest our criminal justice and penitentiary and jailing processes so we are dealing more with people who are the most serious, in the criminal justice and in the penitentiary.”
Stenehjem continued on to say HB 1041 is meant to help low risk offenders from repeating the same crimes.
Wayne Stenehjem: ” I think the realization has come to legislators and everyone else that the time has come to spend more of our resources towards treatment.”
Kurt Snyder is the Executive Director at Heartview, a drug and alcohol treatment center.
Kurt Snyder: “Really the big picture of it is we’ve tried to apply a criminal justice solution to a mental health, behavioral health issue. Which is not right. Nationwide, we have 2.3 million people incarcerated, they estimate that upwards of 70% of those individuals are low level drug offenders.”
If written into law, this bill would help that 70% of people get the help they need. The bill passed unanimously on the Senate floor today. It will now go to a conference committee where members of the Senate and House will make sure the language of the legislation is something both chambers can give a green vote. If it receives a final passage vote from the chambers, to the governor’s desk it goes.