By John Hageman
BISMARCK — North Dakota’s prison population is expected to grow at a slower pace under a package of reforms state lawmakers passed last year, according to a new report presented to legislators Thursday, Aug. 23.
The report, prepared by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, said the state’s prison population would reach 1,958 in fiscal year 2022, about 20 percent less than if no reforms had been enacted. The prison population totaled 1,829 when the first “justice reinvestment” policies became effective in April 2017 and dropped to 1,706 at the end of June of this year.
The report said the slower projected growth would amount to $64 million in “averted costs.”
“While more time is needed to measure the full impacts of the justice reinvestment legislation I signed last year, the decline in our prison population is certainly a step in the right direction,” Gov. Doug Burgum said in a statement.
State Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, echoed that sentiment and said it’s too early to tell what direct impacts the reforms have had.