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.

Title 28 of The Vermont Statutes Annotated, beginning with the first line of the first subsection, is clear about what is supposed to happen to every incarcerated person from the very first moment they begin serving their sentence. This is absolutely never what actually happens. The neglect begins at that moment. If one has medical needs, they are pared down immediately to the lowest common denominator of medical care — not “Continuum Of Care” as the law describes. Mental health care is so substandard it is barely visible. Colored pencils and puzzles.

Now that Vermont is planning to close even more facilities, and lobbies for the funds to build a new prison, why not invest in Vermont’s future with that money instead, and promote programs which actually foster the futures of incarcerated people, who will eventually return to the community. Vocational training, life skills, trade schooling, in many cases even teaching some to read. A critical missing part of this system is acknowledging that they are paying their debt to society, that they have paid their debt to society. I think what is conspicuously absent from the landscape is realizing the amazing potential of these several thousand people in Vermont, and how the state would benefit by actually helping lift them up, rather than impeding their success.

— Juan J.

Read Vermont Title 28 that governs corrections in the state.


  1. Timothy Burgess August 30, 2022 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    I have read V.S.A 28, front to back. This author is 100% correct, in his analysis, the medical system in VT Corrections has been a disaster since at least 2004, when I was incarcerated.

    If one is incarcerated, it is the obligation of the State to provide resources and programs designed to assist in reintegration, from the beginning of a sentence to completion of sentence, including while under community service. The State fails in this area, among others.

    • Juan J August 31, 2022 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your feedback, Timothy. My first experiences with DOC were in August of 1991. Nothing improved, not by a single step forward, to this day. It’s both heartbreaking and exasperating. You are also correct, Title 28 is the playbook – the actual laws by which they are meant to abide… and they don’t. They never have, because there’s no civilian oversight – because folks just don’t know.

  2. Beth August 31, 2022 at 11:49 am - Reply

    And he is also correct to require DOC to provide programs such as vocational training, job-training and reading skills. If we could utilize the talent that we have sitting inside, we could reform our dilapidated facilities from the inside out. There’s a lot of whining about not being able to find trades-people to do work (electricians, plumbers, carpenters etc) and providing folks with skills would solve two problems! The warehousing of our loved ones is a waste of time and money, we’ve known that for years.

    • JuanJ August 31, 2022 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Beth.
      There is a feeling of pride, and self-fullfillment, a restoration of Agency, if you will – associated with a job well done. A sense of accomplishment can change the future of an incarcerated individual. Given the responsibility of a task, and seeing it through… many in the system have never experienced such a thing. Never balanced a checkbook, or paid their own rent, or even owned anything. I believe that Woodstock and Windsor would still be open if we had, as you suggested, put incarcerated tradesepeople in place to repair, restore and rehabilitate these facilities. Imagine the pride, and sense of accomplishment that would have provided incarcerated individuals – who could then have taken those skills back to their communities, and lifted them to become contributing members of society… not to mention they’d be taxpayers again… and not otherwise a drain on an already overtaxed system.

      • Beth September 1, 2022 at 11:20 am - Reply

        Juan, you hit the nail on the head! I call it a “sense of purpose” as well… everyone needs that! Even if they’ve never had the opportunity before. The system could do that…it could be so much better than it is. Sigh.

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