The North Dakota Senate on Thursday voted to put the brakes on Gov. Doug Burgum's original plans for moving female inmates out of a New England correctional facility.
The governor had called for moving female prisoners to the Missouri River Correctional Center near Bismarck and shuffling low-risk men to the campus of the State Hospital in Jamestown. Burgum and corrections officials said the idea was driven by differing services between incarcerated men and women, but locals were worried about losing jobs.
Burgum, a Republican, announced the plan during his budget address in December but his proposal had shifted during the legislative process because plans for a new State Hospital were taken off the table, a spokesman said.
On Thursday, the Senate passed the budget for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with $11.9 million to house inmates, whether they're women or men, at the New England facility during the 2019-21 biennium. The bill requires Burgum to consult with state and local correctional officials to determine whether men or women will be incarcerated there.
"We heard that this is all happening too fast," said Sen. Terry Wanzek, R-Jamestown.
Dave Krabbenhoft, director of administration at the DOCR, said the department still supports moving female inmates to Bismarck while having minimum-custody men in New England.
"This plan now is finding a role for that facility in New England to remain relevant with the Department of Corrections," he said.
The budget bill is expected to be discussed in a House-Senate conference committee before final passage.
The House previously voted to study relocating inmates.