Recently, the United States Senate passed U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s (R-OH) resolution to designate April 2017 as “Second Chance Month” and honor those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. Portman, who is the author of the Second Chance Act, introduced the resolution in March.
The Tribune has advocated for some time for changes to reduce the number of inmates serving time in North Dakota. The Legislature has passed legislation this session that should help reach that goal.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials estimate it costs more than $70 million per year to house the about 1,800 inmates in the state’s prison system, and that doesn’t even take into account the about 1,700 more in county jails.
The state’s top jurist said a package of corrections bills signed by the governor this week was more than fiscally savvy.
Gov. Doug Burgum, lawmakers, corrections officials and others on Friday hailed new legislation aimed at slowing prison growth by helping nonviolent offenders through treatment and sentencing alternatives, instead of warehousing them behind bars.
House Bill 1041, signed by Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday, reduces the drug possession charge level from a Class C felony to a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders and establishes probation as the presumptive sentence for low-level, nonviolent felonies. It also authorizes a pretrial services pilot project to free up limited and costly jail space and authorizes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) to award good time on credit for jail time which was previously prohibited.
More than 90 percent of employers in the U.S. conduct criminal background checks for some applicants, and more than 70 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks for all job applicants, according to a 2012 study from the National Consumer Law Center.
A set of bills meant to reform the state corrections system has passed the Legislature.
Following the suicide of former New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state’s maximum security prison in Shirley, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has faith in his Department of Correction commissioner.
“This comprehensive, data-driven review provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to make sure we are using resources to make our system more effective and fair and better serve the needs of youth and families,” said Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil.