- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Putting more criminals behind bars has not led to a big drop in North Dakota’s crime rate, according to a new study.

The study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the state over the last 10 years has seen a 175 percent increase in the number of people being jailed, but only an 18 percent drop in the crime rate over that span, the Bismarck Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1ocQS55 ).

“Tougher and longer sentences do not deter crime,” said Leann Bertsch, director of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Most offenders do not sit there and look at the Century Code (laws) before they go out and commit the crime.”

The national study was released this month to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which aimed to reduce crime in part by stiffening sentencing requirements for several categories. The results show the belief that harsher sentences deter crime is a myth, Pew project manager Adam Gelb said.

Aaron Birst, attorney and lobbyist for the North Dakota Association of Counties, said statistics such as those provided by the Pew study can be useful but don’t tell the whole story. There are a lot of factors involved in coming up with the right sentence for criminals, he said.

“For the most part, I think those people who are going to jail and at the penitentiary, probably most people would say they need to be there,” he said.

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

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