DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — A North Dakota county is planning to begin gathering data on inmates to determine the most pressing issues for inmates with drug and/or mental health issues at its local jail.

Director Rob Johnson of the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center recently addressed the Ramsey County Commission and presented several statistics, showing those issues nationwide, the Devils Lake Journal ( reported.

“Today, there are 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States. While we have five percent of the world’s population, we have nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners,” Johnson said. “One of the biggest contributing factors to this is mental illness. There are three times as many people with serious mental illness incarcerated in the United States than in hospitals.”

Johnson said gathering data should assist the county to convince state lawmakers that there’s a drug and mental health treatment issue.

Commissioner Ed Brown also agreed with Johnson’s plan and says the county needs state help.

“We need state help. And the best way to do that is to get our legislators educated, get the data that we’re working on in front of them,” Brown said.

He noted another concern is the lack of counselors in the state. But the state’s strict guidelines might be an issue to get more counselors.

Johnson and social services director Rhonda Allery, who’s assisting with plans to gather data, predict that it’s feasible to compile a report by the end of the year.

Information from: Devils Lake Journal,