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Juvenile arrest rate in ND higher than national figures

Lisa Bjergaard, director of the division of juvenile services at the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, presents to an interim legislative committee Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 at the state Capitol in Bismarck. John Hageman / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota juveniles are arrested at a higher rate than the national average, a state corrections official told an interim legislative committee Wednesday, Sept. 13.

While arrest rates for violent crimes and weapons violations are well below the national figures, arrests for disorderly conduct, liquor law violations, drug use and property crimes among juveniles helped push North Dakota's rates higher, according to a presentation from Lisa Bjergaard, director of the juvenile services division at the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

In North Dakota, the total arrest rate for people between the ages of 10 and 17 years old was 5,286 per 100,000 in 2014, while it was 3,060 per 100,000 nationally.

"We're taking a lot of kids into custody," Bjergaard told the Justice Reinvestment Committee at the state Capitol. "I think this just says law enforcement is doing their thing out there. I think what you need to ponder is do they have the resources they need to divert away before kids have to come into the system."

Committee Chairman Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said the figures are a cause for concern but there are "other factors involved."

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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