WILLISTON, N.D. — An attorney says the western North Dakota oil patch hub of Williston should establish an inpatient treatment program for drug offenders.
Drug crimes have been on the rise in Williston, and jailing drug offenders doesn't address the root of the problem, attorney Jeff Nehring said.
"Jail doesn't do anything. You lock them up, the problem is still there," he said. "The chance for repeat offenses is high. There are tools, mental tools, in treatment to get you out of drug addiction. You have to make the decision, 'I want to quit.' "
The Northwest Human Service Center in Williston has an outpatient drug treatment program, but patients leave every day and go back to their homes.
"In my opinion, we're really lacking different options to address drug treatment," Nehring said. "We need an inpatient facility. The person would be monitored 24/7."
Mercy Medical Center President Matt Grimshaw said the facility has no plans to open a drug treatment facility. But Judge Robin Schmidt said she hopes to start a drug court program, which gives offenders incentives to rehabilitate themselves so they can stay out of jail.
"If we can get them off drugs and alcohol, they'd be completely different people," Schmidt said.
Drug problems have grown in the region along with the oil boom, U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon said.
"We're seeing new types of drugs in the west — heroin, crack cocaine," he said. "We're seeing an increase in the amount of drugs, with meth. It used to be, you did a drug case, you pull somebody over, you find (a small amount) of meth on them. Now we're finding multiple ounces, pounds of meth."