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Individual Justice Planning Enacted Into North Dakota Law

(Bismarck, ND) The passage of House Bills 1263 and 1264 into state law memorializes the definition of Individual Justice Planning (IJP), allows the use of an IJP as an alternative to physical custody for justice involved adults, and requires the court to make an IJP referral for a child involved in the juvenile justice system.

Sometimes, a person’s disability may manifest in ways that result in involvement in the criminal justice system. This is problematic because having a disability may also make it difficult to participate in the justice system. IJP is a voluntary, collaborative tool that can be used for people with disabilities that are involved or at-risk of becoming involved with the justice system. The planning process starts by identifying and assessing the root of behavior, then creates recommendations utilizing the least restrictive, most effective alternative, with an identifiable outcome and review process. An IJP will identify consequences that are appropriate for the person’s disability-related behavior and are meant to enhance skills and prevent further involvement with the justice system.

North Dakota’s IJP process was initially developed by The North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project (P&A) and partners for the developmental disability community in the 1980s. P&A in collaboration with the ND PAIMI Advisory Council, recently updated the IJP process and materials to be applicable for use by people of all ages and disabilities. P&A’s efforts also included training 500+ individuals statewide on the IJP process and performing case work related to IJPs.

Veronica Zietz of P&A noted, “Last year P&A assisted over 80 individuals with disabilities that were involved in the justice system to develop an IJP. One of the challenges we faced was that some courts were willing to accept IJPs, while others were not. I hope this legislation will improve the usage of the IJP process and promote acceptance of IJPs by the courts.”

P&A brought House Bills 1263 and 1264 to legislators to legitimize the individual justice planning process in the eyes of the courts and enhance usage of the process. P&A would like to recognize lead sponsor Representative Lawrence Klemin, as well as supporting sponsors Representatives Cory, Hanson, Karls, Roers Jones, and Senators Braunberger, Dever, Dwyer, Elkin, and Larson. The support of all legislators who provided a “Yes” vote successfully contributed to creating a justice system that appropriately responds to North Dakotans with disabilities.

The North Dakota Protection & Advocacy Project is a federally mandated, independent state agency established to advance the human and legal rights of people with disabilities. P&A’s mission is to champion the equality and inclusion of people with disabilities where we live, work and play. Various IJP resources are available on P&A’s website at www.ndpanda.org.


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