When the governor gave his budget address, he proposed closing the Dakota Women’s Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in New England and moving those inmates to Bismarck.
It’s a move that has a lot of people talking. So much so that today’s committee hearing had to be moved to a larger room because of the number of people wanting to testify. We were at the capitol all morning, as the meeting went on for hours.
Chelsea Nelson knows the quality of life the Dakota Women’s Correctional Facility offers.
That’s because she’s been incarcerated at the New England jail 3 times.
Chelsea Nelson; Previously Incarcerated: “The building that they’re currently in is very old. It’s constantly being updated. I’ve seen women sleeping on the floor there due to over-crowding. There are no resources within the facility, zero programming all three times I was in the facility. And it causes recidivism at a very high rate.”
Nelson wants to see the facility be moved to Bismarck in hopes of new programs being made available. She wasn’t the only former inmate to take this stance
The director of treatment services at the Dakota Women’s Correctional Facility said she knows there are problem areas, but hearing the DOCR and the Governor say they want the facility closed came as a shock.
Kelli Krieg; Director of Treatment Services: “We offer very similar to the same programming as they’re proposing to move this. Can we offer more? Yea. Could everyone offer more, certainly. That’s something we could address, but like we said, this was dropped on us after the governor’s address. That there was all this concern that we were never really made aware of.”
Former inmates argue there is no benefit for inmates to keep the facility in New England.
But New England residents continue to say this is a needed source of revenue, especially when the facility could be improved instead of removed.
The governor wants lawmakers to take 35 million dollars from the legacy fund to turn the state hospital in Jamestown into a minimum-custody correctional facility. This would allow for some inmates in Bismarck to be moved to Jamestown, then freeing space for New England inmates to come to the capital city.