ND Drug Courts explained in Prairie Talks


Many people who have gone to jail for substance abuse problems, have trouble staying out once they are released.

“It’s important to me, I think, just as a member of the community and certainly as a prosecutor, I see people who are coming in and out of this system and it’s a revolving door for some people. And there’s something that we need to be able to do to assist these people to get on the right track.” said Leah Viste, Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney.

Viste hopes to demonstrate the obstacles that they have faced and humanize former prisoners.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for community members to get involved and to be of assistance to people who are returning to the community, following incarceration. And I think that, efforts to understand why people might have these issues and efforts that we can do as a community to help these people are really beneficial.” said Viste.

In 2016, a former inmate created the F5 Project to help others hit the reset button.

“A lot of the guys that are coming into our community have been locked up most of their lives, so it’s like starting -imagine playing Tetris on level seventeen, and never playing it before.” said Adam Martin, Founder and Executive Director of F5 Project.

Martin is working to get the judicial system to meet the people where they are at.

“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. But, when we do it on the justice side, nobody claims that that’s insanity. They claim that it works.” said Martin.

But with the national recidivism rate at 75%, Martin argues that it’s not working.

“My goal is, is to point out that it’s on both sides of the coin. We’re both expecting different results, but we’re both doing the same thing over and over again.” said Martin.

Together, Viste and Martin are working to raise awareness of the issue.

“We do have a need for people to be more informed of what’s available for the counseling and the problems of drug and alcohol abuse in our area.” said Arland Geiszler, Mayor of Rugby.

“I hope they walk away with an understanding of what people have to face, some of the obstacles they have to overcome. And I -I hope that they walk away recognizing that people who committed crimes are simply people.” said Viste.

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