Paid political letter: Rebuttable presumption an important tool to prevent crime

Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement. Cass County has seen an 800% increase in murders in the period from 2011-2020 according to North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Overall, violent crime in the county has increased nearly 46%, and statewide violent crime has increased about 38%.

At the same time, North Dakota is in the minority of states with a minimal pretrial detention net for violent offenders. This statement in the state constitution is the only language on the books regarding pretrial detention: “All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

If elected, I will introduce legislation to pass a rebuttable presumption law for pretrial confinement for certain violent offenses or repeat offenders. Simply put, this would put the burden of proof on the defense to show cause why certain violent or repeat defendants should remain out of jail while awaiting trial.

“Rebuttable presumption” means that in certain cases, there is a presumption, rebuttable by the defense, that certain defendants are a risk to the public while awaiting trial.

Rebuttable presumption for pretrial confinement doesn’t eliminate judicial discretion. It allows the defense to rebut the presumption and provide evidence why a violent or repeat offender should remain free.

But it will help law enforcement by not having to re-arrest repeat offenders. It will keep violent offenders off our streets until they go to trial. And it will serve as a deterrent for those criminals who think there are no real consequences, even if they are arrested.

It won’t stop every crime in our city or our state. But it is one more tool for the criminal justice system to stem the rising tide of violent crime. Curtis Olafson is a retired farmer and rancher and a former state senator representing northeastern North Dakota. He is currently running for the state senate in the newly created District 10 in Fargo.

Curtis Olafson
Fargo, N.D.