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ND may reduce drug paraphernalia max sentences

Lydia Gilbertson | Shale Plays Media

North Dakota’s jail cells are overcrowded. With the recent influx of crime in the crowded western part of the state, lawmakers are attempting to solve the problem by reducing sentencing for drug paraphernalia. The number of inmates in state prisons has risen from 1,437 in 2008 to the maximum capacity of 1,576 beds by the end of last year.

The 18-member commission voted on Tuesday to introduce a bill to the North Dakota legislature in 2015 that would lighten the charges associated with the possession of drug paraphernalia. For non-marijuana paraphernalia it would reduce the max sentence from a Class C felony, 5 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine to a Class A misdemeanor, 1 year in prison, and a $3,000 fine. Marijuana paraphernalia’s max sentence would also be reduced to a Class B misdemeanor with a max penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Fargo Forum reports:

“Rep. Ron Carlisle, R-Bismarck, the committee’s chairman, said the commission recognizes the need for additional drug and alcohol treatment services, especially in western North Dakota, and will pass those recommendations on to lawmakers.

“Right now, they have no place to put them, so they end up in a jail cell,” he said, adding if lawmakers don’t pass bills aimed at reducing inmate populations, they’ll have to “get out the checkbook” to pay for more facilities.”

Read More: ND draft bills aim to ease burden on jails; drug paraphernalia offenses would be reduced

Related: Drugs, violent crime, prostitution increased in ND in 2013

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