BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — State leaders gathered at the capitol in Bismarck to hear issues in the state that need improvements. Today, the state’s Juvenile Justice committee held its second hearing of the year. There were a few big topics on the agenda, all presented by different entities within North Dakota.
“Hearing from these different groups is a way to try to anticipate what our needs will be as we come into our next legislative session, “said committee chairwoman, Michelle Strinden.

Derek Steiner from the Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney’s office gave a prosecutors’ perspective on juvenile justice. His ultimate goal is to see changes made within our state laws.

“I think the court can take the case, in my opinion, and get it to an adjudication where the court can impose a proper sentence. A state agency, DJS, or someone else can get the services into the person they need,” said Derek Steiner, “But, you know, from me sitting on the sidelines, after that’s done, I just don’t see those services being able to be provided on an effective basis. So, I know it’s hard to sit here and ask for millions and millions of dollars for treatment services and that’s a whole different can of worms, but I think that is something that should be addressed.”

The next big topic: the child welfare study. Cory Pedersen presented on behalf of the children and family services division. Pederson’s message was to express the need for adequate assistance, training and services for families to stay together. He says it’s not child service’s job to take children away, that’s for law enforcement.

“What is the need that doesn’t exist: access to those services,” said Corey Pedersen, “Where the family is and when the family needs it. We talked about gaps already this morning and quite honestly there are gaps. I will tell you though, there are communities, and I live in one, that has a lot of services. Do they have every service in Bismarck? No, but we have a lot of resources here.”

“So really, we’re looking at ways to understand the issues as they present themselves in the interim, and then how do we best meet those needs before we enter into our next session? So, we’ll have some real good policy initiatives and ideas on how to approach the next session, “said Strinden.
The committee is made up of 13 members. Chairwoman Michelle Strinden says the next hearing will likely happen in February.