Women's prison inmates voice opinions on two year study

NEW ENGLAND, N.D. - The Dakota Women's Correctional Center in New England is expected to stay open for at least another two years. This comes after Gov. Doug Burgum announced its potential closure during an address in December.

A bill that passed through the House and is now headed to the Senate proposes a two year study of the women's correctional facility and services it provides for inmates.

The study will also look into the inmates at the Missouri River correctional center in Bismarck. It will assess costs of relocation and work oppurtunities for both populations.

Many of the female inmates say they wouldn't mind moving to a more central location like Bismarck because they would be closer to family. They say that would helps with their rehabilitation. But others do mention that not having anything at facility would harm New England and their economy.

Behind the chain-linked fence are many opinions about what the state should do with the facility.

'I think there's pros and cons to this place moving," said inmate Kailey Delaplane.

The tug of war of what will happen to the women's prison is in the hands of law makers.

"Why not have input of what we think is good. No matter what, not everyone's going to be happy," said inmate Cara Gibson.

Many say a move closer to the center of the state would be a benefit.

"So I do understand that moving to Bismarck would help a lot of ladies here build relationships with their kids, with their families, and have that support system that I have staying here," said inmate Josi Justice.

Some inmates cite the issues this would bring for the New England community, others say the issues are bigger.

"The economy would be affected here in New England but you know in the long run what's in the best interest of us?! The female inmates?", said inmate, Julie Roubideaux.

Although the study hasn't been green lit yet, many say it's a palpable option.

"Sensible approach to making a big move as far as moving people across the state and so I think that it will give us a good indication of what the needs are and then what the best plan is," said women's prison warden, Rachelle Jutunen.

"The two year study, I hope that, they really look into ways to broaden our job opportunities while we're here. But I mean, your time is what you make it regardless," said inmate Tashena Falcon.

Warden Jutunen says until decisions are concrete, they're business as usual.

Friday senators will be hearing from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on their budget and a branch of that budgets the two year study.