BISMARCK, N.D., July 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (NDDOCR) today reports encouraging data showcasing reduced recidivism rates in a person’s first year after release among former incarcerated individuals, falling from 22.8 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2018, the most recent data available. Recidivism is broadly measured by whether or not a person returns to incarceration within three years of release. The Department of Corrections believes this continuing trend is indicative of the implementation of numerous reentry-focused programs, their progressive approach towards adopting tablet technology – dating back to 2012 – as well as the dedicated staff who build rapport with incarcerated individuals by providing authentic support to help build trust and confidence.

The North Dakota DOCR offers a variety of programming to provide individuals with access to educational and self-improvement resources, trade skillset training and courses that build and refine knowledge ranging from basic lifestyle needs to expertise in sought-after industries.  One of the DOCR’s programs that was designed specifically for those incarcerated in North Dakota prisons is ‘Education Career Readiness and Financial Literacy,’ which is managed by the North Dakota Department of Education.  The program offers curriculum specific to reentry with classes focused on resume drafting, job interview skills, coaching and mentorship work, as well as education on the basics of money management.

Employment is a major barrier upon release from correctional centers and can be the determining factor in an individual’s reentry success. Rough Rider Industries (RRI) helps prepare individuals for employment opportunities by providing job skills programming to the residents of the ND DOCR. Program participants have the opportunity to custom fabricate metal and wood projects, work with laser cutting and engraving technologies, design metal, wood, sign, and textile products utilizing CAD based technologies, learn the vocation of upholstery, welding, sewing, and graphic design, and have the ability to work with many types of CNC equipment. RRI builds relationships with employers in the community and funds their mission in a self-sustaining fashion.  

The implementation of Securus tablet program is another factor in the continuing decline of recidivism in the state. Incarcerated individuals can purchase tablets to communicate with their friends and loved ones using e-messaging, 30-second VideoGrams and phone call capabilities.  Securus also offer free educational and self-help resources on the tablets, such as KA Lite videos, GED prep courses, eBooks and a variety of betterment and life skills videos.  Providing access to touchscreen technology also helps long-term sentenced individuals better adapt to today’s consumer technology that is commonly used by the general public.

«We are proud of our focus on rehabilitation to ensure incarcerated individuals successfully transition into productive members of society and upstanding neighbors in our communities, said Colby Braun, Director of Facility Operations, North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. «Seeing people get out of prison and stay out is a promising sign that we are serving our population well so they are prepared for success when released.  Between our facility programming and the partnership we’ve built with Securus to access tablet and communication technology, we believe that placing a renewed emphasis on reentry tools can help make a difference in the lives of those who are ready for a second chance.

While programming can produce statistical, measurable progress, supportive human interaction also contributes to positive results.  The NDDOCR organization proudly builds positive rapport with individuals – during incarceration by facility staff and post-incarceration with parole and probation officers – displaying demonstrated interest in the success and betterment of those who serve time in the state’s facilities.  In 2018, the DOCR introduced the ‘Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS)’ initiative, training staff to respectively engage with incarcerated individuals, help them attain goals and be prepared to peacefully intervene when aggressive confrontation occurs.  

Adding to the list of the facility’s many programs is The North Dakota Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative – a project that brings together agencies from the public and private sector, as well as community stakeholders, to work together on projects aimed at creating better outcomes for the children and families who are impacted by incarceration.

North Dakota continues to monitor recidivism within the state’s prison system to evaluate performance and adjust programming to help further decrease the rate of return to incarceration.

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SOURCE North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation