More than 100 DOCR inmates granted early parole due to COVID-19

Published: May. 8, 2020 at 4:19 PM CDT
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On average, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation hears 122 parole requests a month, and grants the request 86% of the time.

The parole board meets once a month to consider early release for inmates.

When COVID-19 began impacting North Dakota, the board held a special meeting in March, granting early parole for more than 100 inmates.

Since then, the number of requests being filled continues to increase each month.

For the safety of inmates and staff, many inmates were released early.

"We granted 120 applicants parole before the 31st of March. All of them were related to the COVID-19 pandemic and our mitigation efforts," said Pat Weir, board director.

Of those inmates, 94 were considered non-violent, 14 had committed violent crimes and 11 were registered sex offenders.

"The parole board works very hard to meet the consideration. Our mission statement is to protect the public and to offer the inmates a life where he or she can prove that they have been rehabilitated," said Weir.

In March, considerations for early parole included inmate medical conditions, having nine months or less on their sentence, and a reliable place of residence.

"The Parole Board does set conditions to the furthest extent possible to protect the public," said Weir.

Victims have the possibility to give input to the board before parole is granted.

"If we do release them early, we do make special efforts to keep them advised and let them know what kind of provisions are likely going to be in place," said Weir.

In April the board heard 141 cases, and granted parole for 120 inmates.

Weir said as of Friday morning the parole board has met facility goals concerning COVID-19 and there will not be another special meeting for extra requests