- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A group studying North Dakota’s criminal justice system says probation and parole officers lack the necessary resources to effectively supervise people.

Research from the Council of State Governments Justice Center shows more than 1,000 people had probation revoked in 2014, adding to the prison population and driving up costs, The Bismarck Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1YhFcTn ).

The Incarceration Issues Committee heard Tuesday that people not showing up to see a probation officer, continuing drug use and committing new crimes led to some of those probation revocations.

A survey of probation officers found nearly one-fourth weren’t confident that they could hold people accountable. As a result, probation officers said that they recommended revocation for about one-third of their caseloads each year.

Frank Racek, the presiding judge in the East Central Judicial District, said that when probation officers ask for a revocation, it is because they have already tried everything else.

“There is nothing more we can do,” Racek said.

Project manager Katie Mosehauer says North Dakota jails are too full to take people for short, punitive sanctions. And treatment often requires a long wait, if it’s available at all. Mosehauer says probation could be used for lower-level felonies, which could help the state avoid an additional $485 million in anticipated prison spending over the next 10 years.

Justice Center senior policy adviser Steve Allen says higher-risk offenders should get priority access to treatment, and jail space should be made available for people to serve short sentences for probation violations.

The implementation of community-based behavioral therapy targeted at changing criminal patterns of thinking was also recommended.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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