Letter: It's time to get rid of 'the old guard'

Adam Martin
Adam Martin

This is in response to the recent puff piece, “ From pizza parties to game nights ,” by the Dickinson Press

Personally, reform is difficult. Look at the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not painted as a saint by the media. There were a lot of people who hated the change he was trying to create. The old ways and the new ways were colliding. There is a reason we have the term “the old guard.”

With reform, especially in prison reform, the old guard usually doesn’t work out. It's for the same reason you can’t just stop being racist because you heard Dr. King speak.

Now, here is the most important piece I believe about the whole story:

State Attorney Tom Henning and Rep. Mike Schatz are from Dickinson and New England. The reporter is also from Dickinson.


Director Leann Bertsch is responsible for bringing the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget before legislators to get approved. One of the items on the budget is to move the for-profit New England women’s prison to Bismarck under the DOCR fully. That would result in a loss of jobs and revenue for New England and its residents. This is a good move because for-profit prisons have been found to be very corrupt and have horrid conditions with regard to mental and physical health. They also have a very high rate for recidivism.

What better people to come together to write an attacking piece on Bertsch? I also sat in the legislative hearing and watched how Schatz made personal attacks, and interrupted Bertsch multiple times with straw man arguments. When Bertsch has her male CFO step up, the whole room of men, especially Schatz, changed and pretty much started talking about golf.

There is no actual proof that what Bertsch is doing with prison reform isn’t working. This story has done nothing but bring the people who believe in punishment, bias and community for-profit investment together.

We are not Norway, and from my experience, our prison is not like Norway either. But they are changing and creating good results. I know because a lot of these guys come to live at our houses, and they are doing awesome. I don’t have to battle with the trauma that solitary confinement can bring. I don’t have to deal with undiagnosed illnesses and lack of attention to addiction. They are coming in better condition than they ever have. This is due to the reform Bertsch is creating, and the money the DOCR allocated over to Human Services for the Free Through Recovery program, which creates connections with addiction and mental health advocates.

Schatz voted against House Bill 1256, the bill that would create a non-bias opportunity for people to have their low-level non-violent felonies removed from their records after completing probation and had good behavior.

My recommendation drains the swamp. Get rid of the old guards and vote out the legislators who resemble the people that were against the civil rights movement.

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