BISMARCK, N.D. - The concept of 'innocent until proven guilty' is a cornerstone of our justice system.
A new pilot project will soon help defendants receive more services as they await trial.
State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation leaders say about 14,000 people are locked up in county jails on any given day.
More than 60 percent of those people are awaiting trial.
The DOCR's pre-trial services pilot program aims to help them succeed through reducing incarceration, curbing criminal activity, and making sure they show up for court.
Adam Anderson says pretrial services could help those who might otherwise feel hopeless and lost in the trial processes.
He says the program will make our state a leader in those services to better protect the acquitted.
"If you look around the country, there's been a really strong push for pretrial services. And being involved in that and having North Dakota involved in that has really opened some eyes around the country," said DOCR representative Adam Anderson.
That push for more services, however, has happened slowly as people begin to see the power of rehabilitation for prisoners.
"My opinion is that it's such a departure from what we've traditionally done. Historically, we've been so handcuffed to this financial bail system and it's, I'm not willing to say that we should aboliosh that completely, but what I'm saying is there's different ways to do things,” said Anderson.
Anderson says the project's main functions are to collect and analyze defendant information, provide recommendations and reports to the court, and supervise defendants. But making sure the accused simply get to the courtroom can be a battle of its own.
"They get a date and sometimes they're not the most responsible people in the world and they're not thinking ahead to finding or taking care of all the peripheral things they need to take care of to make it to that court," said Anderson.
Pretrial services get defendants the help they need, further ensuring fair trials.
The pretrial services pilot project will officially begin in the North, South, and East Central judicial districts across the state on July 1.