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North Dakota approves early release for more state prisoners amid coronavirus crisis

State parole board has approved the release of 119 inmates from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the past two months.

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The North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck. Korrie Wenzel / Forum News Service
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BISMARCK — North Dakota has approved early release dates for state prisoners due to mitigating the coronavirus, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

The state parole board has approved the release of 119 inmates from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the past two months as prisons take precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, DOCR spokeswoman Kayli Richards said in an email. That included 63 inmates from the regular meeting last month.

The parole board called a special meeting on March 20 to approve the release of 56 inmates as part of mitigation efforts. The inmates are expected to be released before May 31, Richards said.

The DOCR has taken measures to prevent the virus from coming into its facilities, including limiting the number of inmates it has booked into state prisons, ceasing in-person visitation and making space to separate sick inmates from healthy ones.

Gov. Doug Burgum has praised the DOCR for its efforts, noting state prisons in North Dakota have not had any positive cases of coronavirus.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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