At the N.D. State’s Attorney Conference

Only one issue this year and it deals with human trafficking. Now, in addition to being a purely federal crime for, essentially, violating the emancipation proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, forced prostitution and other forms of labor are being added as a point of emphasis for States Attorneys to prosecute. Unfortunately, much like child pornography, the new crime is manpower intensive and, where manpower is scarce (like the oil patch) and victims don’t report or cooperate with law enforcement, human trafficking will probably remain hidden and pervasive.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was warmly received by the largest crowd that anyone could remember for the event and the media was everywhere with cameras shoved in everyone’s face. However, with increased penalties for being a pimp or abusing minors, one can only ponder what the North Dakota Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation will say about adding new, long sentences to their allegedly overcrowded prison. The other SA’s where still badgering legislative coordinators with questions about their ridiculous proposals to cut sentences, return “non violent” offenders and virtually every other convict, back to the communities from whence they came and, their whining about probation and parole. Funny…I still can’t get an answer from these guys as to why North Dakota can’t simply follow suit and approach the federal government about using an abandoned military base or two as minimum/medium security offenders. Or, as one of my other colleagues opined, they stop trying to make a profit by renting bed space to the feds who are, apparently, actually sentencing offenders to prison under the federal mandatory sentencing guidelines. You know…you break a federal law and the only option is incarceration for a specific period “without probation or parole”.

Hey, if it’s good enough for the feds, it’s good enough for me. Except that this Washington, DC, Administration seems intent on just letting everyone go too. Maybe the fish does rot from the head down. Who knew?

(By Pat Merriman, Dunn County State’s Attorney)

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