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North Dakota Attorney General aims to crack down on violent crime with tougher sentences

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley believes harsher sentences will discourage violent crime, so he's putting together a package of new laws targeting violent crimes in which a gun was illegally used.

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North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley.
Chris Flynn/The Forum
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FARGO — North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley is calling for tougher prison sentences for violent crimes with illegal firearms in response to what he's calling a rise in crime across the state.

In Fargo alone, multiple shootings happened in the past couple of weeks. Wrigley said that's an example of the increase in violent crime that statewide statistics, which he plans to release soon, will show.

"Something is starting to erode," he said. "It's real, people see this, they recognize it, and we can't just be North Dakota nice about this and act like what we're seeing isn't real."

Wrigley believes harsher sentences will discourage violent crime, so he's putting together a package of new laws targeting violent crimes in which a gun was illegally used.

Under those laws, anyone found guilty would face an automatic mandatory sentence on top of what's handed down by the judge. He has yet to define the amount of years in prison a person would face for certain charges.

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"Mandatory sentences that are consecutive to the underlying offense, that would be upon conviction or a guilty plea, would be mandatory components of a sentence," he said.

He's also including longer sentences for people who flee and spark police chases in this package of potential new laws.

"When people are making a decision on whether to use a firearm illegally, they'll know that, in North Dakota, that's going to be significant (prison) time, and it won't be a matter of discretion that their lawyer or someone else can talk the system out of," Wrigley said. "It's a matter of the sentence that they're going to serve."

Wrigley will be pitching these new sentencing guidelines to state lawmakers at the next legislative session, meaning they could become law late next year.

He said he will work with state's attorneys and law enforcement leaders and will release precise details when his plan is finalized.

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