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Archives - State Agencies - Corrections and Rehabilitation


North Dakota Binder Twine Float

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was created in 1989 (S. L. 1989, Ch.156) and is responsible for the direction and general administrative supervision, guidance, and planning of adult and juvenile correctional facilities and programs in North Dakota. The purpose of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is to protect the public while providing a safe and humane environment for both adults and juveniles who are in the care and custody of the Department. The Director is appointed by the governor.

Initially the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administered the programs of the State Penitentiary, Rough Rider Industries, the State Industrial School, Juvenile Community Services, Parole and Probation, and the Pardon Board (S. L. 1989, Ch.156). Later the programs were divided into the two broad categories of adult services and juvenile services. Adult Services administers the programs of the State Penitentiary and Parole and Probation, and the Division of Juvenile Services (NDCC 27-11) is responsible for the custody of delinquent and unruly children placed in its care by the courts. It operates the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (State Reform School) and the Division of Community Services.
Adult Services
Located in Bismarck, the State Penitentiary is the maximum security prison, and was authorized by the Territorial Legislature in 1883 (S. L. 1883, Ch.30). It opened in 1885 and was governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Governor to serve six-year terms. The Warden was selected by the Board of Directors and served a two-year term.

In 1911 the Board of Control replaced the Board of Directors and was given the expanded duties of managing the State Penitentiary and the State Reform School (S. L. 1911, Ch. 62). The Board of Control was succeeded in 1919 by the Board of Administration (S. L. 1919, Ch.71).

In 1969 state law established the Office of the Director of Institutions who was authorized to supervise eleven state institutions including the Penitentiary. The Director also appointed the Warden (S. L. 1969, Ch.131, Ch 440).

The State Penitentiary has sponsored a variety of prison industries throughout its history. The North Dakota Twine and Cordage Plant was established in 1899 and opened for business in 1900, producing binder and baler twine and rope. The purpose of the Twine and Cordage Plant was to offer productive employment for inmates and to supply regional consumers with low cost twine. The Twine and Cordage Plant closed in 1970 after the plant was destroyed by fire.  Other discontinued industries include a Brick Yard (1894-1940), a Casket Shop (1936-1965), and a book bindery (1958-1976). Between 1933 and 1975 the Penitentiary also operated the Sign and Tag Plant that manufactured vehicle license plates.

Legislation in 1975 created the Rough Rider Industries as the industrial division of the State Penitentiary.  It consisted of six small factories: a sign factory; plastics products factory; hardwood factory; upholstered products factory; janitorial products factory; and metal products fabrication factory.

A Prison Industry Advisory Committee was created in 1983 (S. L. 1983, Ch. 161), consisting of the Director of Institutions and seven members, appointed by the governor for a four year term to provide guidelines for prison industries. After the creation of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation there were changes in the makeup of the Board and an expansion of the purpose of the Rough Rider Industry (S. L. 1991, Ch. 117).  

The minimum security facility called the North Dakota State Farm was established in 1941 (S. L. 1943, Ch.229). It was an agricultural facility providing food for institutional consumption and vocational training and employment for the inmates. Renamed the Missouri River Correctional Center in 1991, programs were expanded to include the manufacturing of goods and services for the state and political subdivisions. It functioned as a transitional unit and offered work release and community treatment programs.

The Legislature in 1997 (S. L. 1997, Ch.114), approved a renovation project on several buildings at the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown for the purpose of expanding adult programs.  Named the James River Correctional Center, the facility served minimum security inmates needing evaluation and care for mental illness. Female prisoners were housed at this facility.  In 2003 the legislature repealed a law involving the transfer of penitentiary inmates to the State Hospital. (S. L. 2003, Ch. 97).

Legislation gave the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the authority to contract with counties who met the requirements for separate housing units for female and male inmates, and could provide chemical dependency treatment programs, mental health programs, medical services, and sufficient recreational facilities. (S. L. 2003, Ch. 98).

In 2003, the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center at New England was selected to house all female inmates and the facility name was changed to the Dakota Women’s Corrections and Rehabilitation Center. In May 2006, a five bed special management unit was added for high security inmates.

In 2009, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation contracted with the North Center Rehabilitation and Offender Center in Rugby to serve as a security jail for male substance abuse offenders. It was renamed the Heart of America Rehabilitation Center. 

The Transition from Prison to Community initiative provided for additional partners and programs including the Tompkins Rehabilitation and Correction Center located at the State Hospital in Jamestown, the Bismarck Transitional Center, and the Centre Incorporated facilities of Fargo, Grand Forks, and Mandan. Other partners include the Last Chance, Relapse Treatment Intervention, and several faith based programs.

In 2009, the Legislature passed legislation to remodel and expand the North Dakota State Penitentiary (S. L. 2009, Ch. 634). 

Parole and Probation
The State Penitentiary’s Board of Trustees dates back to 1891 and was empowered to act as a Parole Board with the with the Governor serving as ex-officio president (S. L. 1891, Ch.92).  A Board of Experts was established in 1909 to handle parole cases for the State Penitentiary (S. L. 1901, Ch. 175). From 1909 to 1915, the Board of Experts consisted of the Warden, prison physician, prison chaplain, and one person selected by the Board of Trustees of the State Penitentiary. In 1915, the membership of the Board of Experts was expanded to include a member of the Board of Control and a member selected by the Board of Control. The Board of Pardons assumed the parole duties of the Board of Experts in 1923 (S. L. 1923, Ch. 26). 

The State Parole Board was established in 1963 (S. L. 1963, Ch. 124) and consisted of three gubernatorial appointees serving staggered three year terms. The three ex-officio members of the Board of Pardons (Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and the State Parole Board jointly appointed a person to serve as the clerk for the State Parole Board and Board of Pardons. The primary function of the Board was to consider State Penitentiary inmate applications for parole, work, or educational release, and supervision of probationers and parolees. 

Since the creation of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a change to the State Parole Board addresses the qualifications of potential board member candidates. In 1999 (S. L. 1999, Ch.117) the State Parole Board consisted of six members, who were qualified electors of the state, appointed by the Governor to serve three year terms. One member must be experienced in law enforcement which may include serving as a prosecuting attorney, another must be a licensed attorney, with the remaining members qualified by special experience, education or training. 

In 1997 (S. L. 1997, Ch.115) the Pardon Advisory Board was created. The Pardon Advisory Board makes recommendations to the governor concerning any matters involving pardons or commutations of sentence. The Board includes the Attorney General , two members of the Parole Board, and two members appointed by the Governor. The Governor may dissolve the Pardon Advisory Board at any time.


1883              Authorization of the State Penitentiary located in Bismarck.
1885-1911   The State Penitentiary governed by a Board of Directors.
1909-1923   Board of Experts established to handle parole cases.
1911              Board of Control Created to administer the State Penitentiary.
1919-1969   Administration of State Penitentiary transferred to the Board of Administration.
1923-1963   Board of Pardons manages parole cases.
1941              Creation of State Farm.
1963              Creation of State Parole Board.
1969              Director of Institutions created and manages the State Penitentiary.
1970              The Twin and Cordage Plant destroyed by fire.
1975              Rough Rider Industries created by Legislature.
1983              Creation of Prison Industries Advisory Board.
1985              Legislative Assembly provided authorization for the issuance of bonds in the amount of 7.5 million dollars to defray the costs of Phase II construction and renovation projects at the Penitentiary.
1989              Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation created to oversee the programs of the Division of Adult Services, State Correction Centers, Parole Board, Community Services, and Victims Reparation Act. Director appointed by Governor.
1991              State Farm renamed Missouri River Correction Center.
1997              Creation of James Valley Correctional Center at Jamestown.
1999-2001   Division of Field Service created to supervise the placement of all adult
offenders. Division of Parole and Probation renamed Parole Board and Pardon Advisory Board.
2003-2004   Women offenders are relocated to the Southwest Dakota Correctional Center, a facility under a contract with the state of North Dakota.
2003              Select buildings transferred from State Hospital to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
2009              State Legislature passes bill to remodel and expand the State Penitentiary. The bill vetoed by the Governor.


30358  Warden Subject Files
30359  Correspondence Concerning Rationing and War Production
30360  Inmate Census Schedule
30361  Inmate Record
30362  Prison Property Inventory
30363  Architectural Drawings of the State Penitentiary, 1905
30366  Mug Shot Books
30367  Sign and Tag Plant Sales Correspondence
30875  Payroll Files
30876  Audit Reports
30940  Board of Trustees Minutes
30941  Board of Trustees Expense Statements
30942  Minutes of the Board of Experts
30966  Inmate Deportment Record [RESTRICTED]
31255  Inmate Case Files [RESTRICTED]
31256  Index to Inmate Case Files
31257  Employee Advisory Board Minutes
31258  Adjustment Committee Minutes [RESTRICTED]
31259  Rough Rider Industries Files
31417  John Rooney Case File 967
31430  Inmate Population and Work Record.
31431  Discharge Record.
31938  Correspondence, 1930-1940 (transferred from BCI)

Board of Pardons
30365  Calendar of Applications before the State Board of Pardons [RESTRICTED]
30943  Case Record of Board of Pardons Actions on Pardon Applications
31804  Parole and Probation Calendars, minutes, and meeting packets [RESTRICTED]

State Farm
30368  State Farm Cattle, Hog, and Poultry Department Daily Report
30369  State Farm Carpenter’s Daily Reports
30370  State Farm Hobby Shop Reports
30371  State Farm Property Appraisals

Twine and Cordage Plant
30374  Twine and Cordage Plant Miscellaneous Correspondence
30375  Twine and Cordage Working Papers
30376  Twine and Cordage Factory Production Monthly Reports
30377  Twine and Cordage Credit Reports Files
30970  Twine and Cordage Ledger
30972  Twine and Cordage Payroll Ledger
30981  Twine and Cordage Plant Fiber Record
30983  Twine and Cordage Plant Twine Manufacture Record


The North Dakota State Reform School was created by the North Dakota Constitution, Article IX, Section 12, in 1890 (S. L. 1890, Ch. 164). With the new administration building completed, the institution opened southwest of Mandan on May 1, 1903 with a land grant of 40,000 acres.  The Reform School was governed by a five member Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor and with the consent of the State Senate. The Board of Trustees had authority to manage the affairs of the State Reform School and to appoint the superintendent, teachers, and steward.  The State Reform School was charged with the “reformation” of boys and girls under 18 years of age through instruction in “morality,….useful knowledge and some regular course of labor, either mechanical, manufacturing, or agricultural….” Minors convicted of any crime except murder could be assigned to the State Reform School by the courts.

The Board of Trustees was abolished and administration of the State Reform School passed to the Board of Control in 1911 (S. L. 1911, Ch. 62). Administration of the School came under the Board of Administration in 1919 (S. L. 1919, Ch.71) and in that same year, the name of the institution was changed to the State Training School. The Superintendent of the State Training School was appointed to a four year term by the Board of Administration.

In 1961 (S. L. 1961, Ch.131) the name of the school was changed to the North Dakota State Industrial School. Management of the School was transferred to the Director of Institutions in 1969 (S. L. 1969, Ch.440). The Superintendent of the State Industrial School was appointed to a four year term by the Director of Institutions. The Superintendent had the general responsibility for the detention, rehabilitation, and instruction of the institutionalized juveniles.

In 1989 (S. L. 1989, Ch.156) the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was created and the State Industrial School came under the authority of the Youth Services Division of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In 1995 (S. L. 1995, Ch.120) the name of the Industrial School was changed to the Youth Correctional Center.

In 2009 (S. L. 2009, Ch.273) the title of Superintendent was changed to Administrator, and the Director of the Juvenile Service Division could serve as the Administrator of the Youth Correction Center and designate officers and employees to carry out the administrative duties (S. L. 2009, Ch.271).

In 2005 (S. L. 2005, Ch.271) an age requirement law replaced a 1935 ruling (S. L.1935, Ch.128) stating that no child under the age of twelve could be admitted to the State Training School and that at age eighteen a juvenile would be transferred to an alternative facility. In 2005, the age was extended to twenty.
The Division of Community Services cooperates with the Department of Human Services, the North Dakota Association of Counties, and the Department of Public Instruction to provide an array of placement options and services for troubled adolescents committed to its care and custody by the district courts. The programs include intensive in-home family services and intensive supervision and tracking that makes available frequent contact with youth. Day treatment offers assessment, counseling, therapy, aggression replacement training, behavior management, and academic remediation services. Additional programs include high risk drug and alcohol support groups and diversified occupational and vocational educational programs within school districts. The goal of the statewide detention support services is to reduce the number of juveniles held in adult jails.


1890              North Dakota Constitution provides for the creation of the State Reform School.
1890-1911   Board of Trustees to govern the School.
1902-1903   Completion of Old Main Building allows School to open on May 15, 1903.
1903-1971   Agriculture taught as the chief vocation.
1911              Board of Trustees abolished. Administration transferred to the Board of Control.
1919-1969   Board of Administration in charge of School.
1919              Named changed to State Training School.
1920              Marmot School building housed educational coursework.
1936              Establish a goal to train and educate juvenile offender.
1950              Becomes a member of the Training School and Juvenile Agencies Association.
1960-1961   Legislative Committee studies education issues on becoming become fully  
1961              Name changed from State Training School to State Industrial School.
1969              Under the jurisdiction of the Director of Institutions.
1969              State Youth Authority created by North Dakota Legislature.
1987              Division of Juvenile Services created.
1989              Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation created, administers the Division of Juvenile Services.
1995              State Industrial School renamed Youth Correctional Center.
2005              Age limit expanded to twenty.
2009              Director of the Juvenile Services Division may serve as administrator of the  
Youth Correction Center.  Superintendent renamed to Administrator.  


30830    Minutes of the Board of Trustees
30831    Administrative Subject Files
30832    Budgets
30833    Biennial Reports
30834    Property Inventories
30835    Balance Ledger, Payment and Collection Record, Check Register
30836    Menus, Grocery Lists, Inventories
31894    Campus Meeting Minutes. CONFIDENTIAL
31895    NDPERS [Local Chapter] Minutes
31896    Project, proposals, and program files
31897    Surveys and statistical reports   


Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Website
Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota State Laws, 1889-2009.
North Dakota Secretary of State. Blue Book, 1995, 1999-2011.

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