I am sick of writing about the crime in Dickinson, North Dakota, and you are probably tired of reading about it. I began to find the definitive answer on why there is so much crime in Dickinson, but I hesitated to write about it, because I thought that it would be too difficult to explain, though the answer is simple.
I am going to refer readers to a series of recent articles, presented by the Dickinson Press newspaper, sponsored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association, where one of their journalists, Sam Easter, did a very thorough investigation on why there is so much crime in North Dakota. This journalist presented all of the facts and figures, but he didn’t shout the answer or conclusion loud enough, maybe he wasn’t permitted to do so because of the political implications. (refer to this link https://www.thedickinsonpress.com/news/crime-and-courts/4046635-Too-big-too-fast-North-Dakota’s-other-housing-problem, at the bottom of this article there is a link to all of the articles in this series.)
Here is the answer: In the late 1990s, the state of North Dakota made a deliberate transition from consistent stiff incarceration penalties for drug crimes and theft, to less incarceration penalties and more probation for offenders. The fact is, it costs the state of North Dakota about $43,000 per year to incarcerate an offender, versus about $1,700 per year to put an offender on probation.
These very high-up people in North Dakota government, like the Governors, Attorney Generals, and State Legislators, they tried to present to North Dakotans, that there needed to be more money spent on prisons. The North Dakotans were, unsurprisingly, too cheap and pinch-penny to want to spend more money on prisons.
In order to remain popular, and to get re-elected, the Governors, Attorney Generals, and State Legislators, they never came out and said, “Listen you dumb sons-of-bitches, if you don’t spend this money to build new prisons, you are going to be overrun with crime and criminals in your communities.”
Instead, the Governors, Attorney Generals, State Legislators, Judges, and Prosecuting Attorneys have implemented this “Probation for Everyone” policy, knowing full well that the communities would become overrun with criminals. Their belief was probably that once the ordinary citizens became tired of dealing with so much crime and so many criminals every day, that it would come to the point where North Dakotans would ask for more prisons to be built.
The Governors, Attorney Generals, State Legislators, Judges, Prosecuting Attorneys, Probation Officers, and Police Officers know why there is so much crime in Dickinson, North Dakota, but the problem is that the ordinary citizens don’t know.
The prisons in North Dakota are currently completely full, because new prisons have not been built. Because the prisons in North Dakota are full, with no room for additional prisoners, people who are convicted of drug crime and theft in North Dakota are given very little jail time, and probation.
Many of the Probation Officers in North Dakota have as many as 130 offenders to supervise on probation, because probation is given rather than incarceration. The Police in Dickinson have seen for years, that they can successfully arrest someone for possession of methamphetamine and possession of stolen property, the offender is released from jail on bail, the Police arrest this same offender again for another possession of meth and stolen property while they are out on bail awaiting trial, and in the end, this offender only ever spends a month total in jail, and gets probation.
When I looked up the person who stole my truck in 2017 on the North Dakota Court Repository, he should have still been in prison for an arson charge, while he was out committing multiple felony thefts, and he should have been in prison for these multiple felony thefts, while he was out stealing my truck. He was out of prison on probation, while he was caught in possession of stolen property, and he was out on bail for this possession of stolen property, when he stole my truck.
I e-mailed a judge who had adjudicated many of this thief’s criminal cases over the years to ask him why he kept suspending most of this person’s prison sentences, when this person kept repeating and repeating felony thefts again and again over the past twenty years, and this judge was outraged, and he told me to go ask the prosecutor.
If you read the Dickinson Press newspaper “Police Blotter” or “Crime and Courts” articles, and go look up the people named who have been charged with theft and possession of illegal drugs using the North Dakota Court Repository on the internet, you will almost always find that they are currently on probation for a previous charge of theft and possession of drugs, and in many cases they are currently out on bail awaiting trial for a previous arrest for theft and possession of drugs.
The Police in Dickinson arrest the same several hundred people for theft, possession of drugs, and drug dealing, over and over again, multiple times each year, because these offenders are not being incarcerated, they are being let out of jail almost immediately right back into Dickinson. Also, these repeat offenders have no fear of committing crime in Dickinson because their punishment is so lenient.