North Dakota releases about 1,400 inmates each year, but many end up back in jail. A newly passed bill plans to study the problem in order to figure out how our state can reduce the revolving door in our prisons.
State Penitentiary Warden Colby Braun says it’s always a good idea to take a good look at your current practices and ask yourself, ‘Are we doing everything we can?’
He says reducing recidivism, or the continuous flow of the same people in and out of prison, involves getting better resources inside the prison, and programs to help those transitioning out.
Braun says the more we have available to help them get jobs, housing, and stay clean of addictive substances, the better chance they have staying out of jail.
He adds, “The less crime, the better off all of us are, so everybody benefits from getting that revolving door to stop. But it begins before then, whether it’s on the juvenile side, working with kids in the schools and all the way up. And it’s focusing on prevention.”
The DOCR Director of Education says they are constantly reviewing their successes and failures, but she thinks it will be great to have outside eyes taking a look, and noticing things they may not have from up close.
The Director says she would like to see resources on the outside, like having companies that hire inmates to come into the prison, to see how it operates and get to know the system.
She believes that will help prison staff better understand how to prepare those in jail for when they’re released, and hired.
She says the difficulty of that transition is the biggest reason people end up back in jail.
Education Director Penny Hetletved explains, “There are a lot of folks in North Dakota that are interested in helping people and growing our state. So, I think any time there’s an opportunity to see what a different lens will find than what we look for, will be helpful.”
HCR 3015 passed in both chambers by a large margin.