megmcc

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So far megmcc has created 50 blog entries.

Crossover

March 15th was the last legislative session before crossover. Crossover is when bills that have passed out of one chamber, house or senate, get passed to the other, senate or house, to be taken up, And since this is the second year of our legislative biennial, any bill that hasn’t “made the crossover” will need to be refiled the following year. (more…)

By |2024-03-31T17:44:54+00:00March 27, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Good Things Take Time

A Common-Sense Approach Can Address Addiction and Crime

Haste makes waste, an old adage that rings true today. The ability of opioids to take root in our very state, towns, neighborhoods and families took time. Yet the recent Bill H.534 demonstrates how quickly lawmakers jump to increasing multiple retail theft penalties into some serious jail time. Quick to make this choice, versus meaningful rehabilitation time for those repeat shoplifters, likely stealing to support a pernicious opioid addiction. (more…)

By |2024-02-07T13:25:28+00:00February 7, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The “tough on crime” approach won’t solve our problems

Criminologists talk a lot about the pendulum swing between “tough on crime” strategies and those that rely more on human services than punishment. These swings are evident in legislation, and other policy measures. We are seeing it now at the Vermont Statehouse: a swing back to the “tough on crime” approach. Being tough on crime means a few different things. On the surface, it seems like a reasonable response; of course we don’t want to be “tolerant” of crime. But what it means in practice is costly laws passed in response to (understandably) fed-up and worried constituents, without sufficient thought to the long-term consequences, and more importantly, what the existing evidence-base shows to be effective.

I appreciate the constituents’ worries and the legislators’ desire to be responsive. But there is clear evidence that as states increase investments in criminal legal apparatuses, they reduce investment in human services/welfare. And naturally, as we divest from human services, and funding that would raise those most in need, we see more social problems in the form of houselessness, untreated mental illness and substance use disorder. (more…)

By |2024-01-28T13:42:11+00:00January 28, 2024|Commentary, Legislative|0 Comments

Behind the Smoke and Mirrors: The True Story of PRIN

His words were scratching through the poor connection of our video call and interrupted by banging doors and shouting voices, but his conviction could not have been any clearer: “I would rather have never known about the program than have something to invest my hope and creativity into and give ideas that were never brought anywhere. Our ideas never left that room. That’s not just grant fraud, that is spiritual fraud.”

He was telling me about the Prison Research and Innovation Project, known simply as PRIN, which began in Vermont in the fall of 2020. PRIN is a five-year pilot project which brings together a variety of different institutions; it is funded by Arnold Ventures, whose fortune is linked to corporate payouts in the final days of Enron; overseen by the Urban Institute, a DC-based non-profit; studied by researchers at the University of Vermont; and ultimately controlled by the Vermont Department of Corrections. Vermont DOC’s website describes PRIN as an effort at “improving prison environments and ensuring dignity and humanity for all.” (more…)

By |2023-12-11T20:22:25+00:00December 6, 2023|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Vermont Needs a Second Look

On Friday, November 3, 2023, the Center for Justice Reform at the Vermont Law & Graduate School hosted a day-long conference to discuss a proposed bill in the legislature, S.155, also known as “Second Look”  legislation.

Throughout the day, participants heard from various legal and criminal justice experts from around the country about the importance of Second Look. (more…)

By |2023-12-05T23:24:15+00:00December 4, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Keep Children out of Adult Courts

Below is a letter written to Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos concerning the decision to charge a 14-year-old as an adult. You can also write or call Ms Vekos at eva.vekos@vermont.gov or 802-388-7931. Also, contact your state representatives and tell them that we should never charge a minor as an adult. (more…)

By |2023-11-13T14:11:32+00:00November 13, 2023|Commentary, Legislative|1 Comment

Illness is not a Crime

It is time for our legislative body to make a full commitment to truly funding meaningful treatment to Vermont’s epidemic of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) in the creation of appropriate treatment facilities. Where is our opioid settlement money? I concur our state is trying, but the idea of helping a “drug addict” still sticks in some legislators‘ craw. (more…)

By |2023-11-06T17:24:01+00:00November 6, 2023|Commentary, Legislative|1 Comment

Dear Legislators

Vermont Just Justice Recommendations for Prison Health Care

Vermont Just Justice has been following the discussion of prison healthcare in Vermont, and the reliance of hedge fund-owned Wellpath LLC to provide that care. Contrary to what we hear from DOC and the provider, our connections to those inside tell a different story. The following are our recommendations to the Vermont Legislator. Please share this post, and particularly share it with legislators in your county. (more…)

By |2023-10-18T15:18:26+00:00October 18, 2023|Commentary|1 Comment

Prisons Are Not Humane

The Vermont legislature appears to be going forward with the idea of building a new prison. The premise seems to be that, if you design a prison to be more humane, and build in more possibilities for training and education, then you are engaging in reform. But will these new prisons be surrounded by several fences and layers of razor wire? Will there still be a vehicle patrolling the perimeter? Will people still be strip-searched after visiting with their loved ones or on returning from a medical trip? Will the use of solitary confinement continue? Will people still be transported in the “chicken truck” sitting on benches in an unheated or uncooled panel truck, with no windows, shackled and unable to even buckle a seat belt? There’s no evidence that ending these practices are part of the discussion. But they are part of the daily trauma of being incarcerated. (more…)

By |2023-09-29T12:23:48+00:00September 28, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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