Monthly Archives: August 2022

Criminal Justice Reform?

It seems like a myth.

What seems so obvious to so many of us, is that how we incarcerate people – and what we do with them – or don’t do – IS NOT WORKING. Those opposed to this vital need for change don’t see anything wrong with the current system. They don’t see it as Draconian. Black’s Law Dictionary defines Draconian Laws as: A code of laws prepared by Draco, the celebrated lawgiver of Athens. These laws were exceedingly severe, and the term is now sometimes applied to any laws of unusual harshness. This applies to the Codes, Policies and Directives which are the laws within the prison system, as well as post incarcerate supervision. (more…)

By |2022-08-30T13:20:53+00:00August 29, 2022|Commentary|5 Comments

Gaining – Then Losing – Sentence Reduction in Vermont

In 2019, the The Justice Reinvestment II Working Group was convened. The members of the group included legislators, law enforcement, Department of Corrections officials, a Vermont Supreme Court justice, and advocacy groups. Their charge was to “… work with the Council of State Governments to conduct a review of programming, transitional services and population trends in Vermont’s correctional facilities. The review may include an evaluation of the women’s corrections population in Vermont and the programming and services to meet their needs, the detention population and barriers that exist to reducing the corrections population.” (more…)

By |2022-08-22T20:12:09+00:00August 22, 2022|Legislative|1 Comment

Activist Profile: Tim Burgess of VT CURE

We talked with Executive Director of VT CURE, Tim Burgess about his current advocacy work and the issues he feels are most pressing for prison reform in Vermont. Tim was incarcerated for five years, serving time both in Vermont and in the private CCA facility in Kentucky.

What is CURE and how can it help those incarcerated and their families?
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) is a national grassroots organization with state chapters working since 1972. CURE believes that prisons should be used only for those who absolutely must be incarcerated and that those who are incarcerated should have all of the resources they need to turn their lives around. We also believe that human rights documents provide a sound basis for ensuring that criminal justice systems meet these goals.

As the Vermont liaison, I act as a resource under the CURE umbrella for those incarcerated in our state as well as those Vermonters housed out of state. I actively engage with the advocacy process and give support on issues from housing to medical care to human rights violations. My scope of work also engages with those under supervision as well. (more…)

By |2022-08-11T18:41:32+00:00August 11, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

What It’s Like to Have Cancer in Prison

In the spring of 2014,a slow-to-heal sore throat turned out to be cancer. By mid-October, I had been moved from the CCA facility in Kentucky to Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vermont. The bus ride was miserable. Thirty hours on a rock-hard bench chained to another guy. No movement allowed except to use the toilet, while still chained together.

Initially I was housed in Charlie unit. It is a medical unit for people with ongoing health problems. Nurses came in at various times to dispense medication, check blood pressures, change dressings, etc. Examinations and other treatment are performed in the medical wing. It is not a walk-in clinic. You have to submit a medical slip, then wait to be called in — usually a few days later. A doctor is available on some days. Nurses do the bulk of the work in the infirmary and everywhere else. The staff have widely varying levels of experience. Some emergencies are handled at Springfield Hospital. Specialty care and surgery may happen at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. My cancer treatement – seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, in the company of corrections officers – happened there. At DHMC, the level of consistency is high. No staff ever behaved toward me as if I was some sort of a monster. I felt very lucky to be treated there. Kentucky was a bad joke. (more…)

By |2022-08-08T15:57:35+00:00August 3, 2022|Personal Narrative|3 Comments
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