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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

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

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

Reimagining Vermont

Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions.” This quote by one of the prison abolition movement’s leaders, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, encapsulates why I choose abolition. I choose life, not death; I choose accountability not punishment; and I choose love not revenge. I come here today to make the case for abolition and insist that it is the time to transition our state away from incarceration. (more…)

By |2023-09-05T18:35:22+00:00September 5, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Private Prisons: A Bad Decision

It may come as a surprise that some Vermont inmates prefer to “go out of state.” It certainly comes as no surprise, given the abysmal conditions in Vermont’s prisons, that people convicted in our state want to be housed any place that is not home. I have been in both state prisons and housed out of state in for-profit facilities. I speak with some knowledge of both. It’s a fair question as to why anyone sentenced in Vermont wants to be far away. (more…)

By |2023-08-23T15:08:56+00:00August 23, 2023|Uncategorized|1 Comment

VJJ Goes to Montpelier

On August 8, the advocates of Vermont Just Justice met with the legislators of the Joint Justice Oversight Committee to report on our findings from our collection of stories about the state of health care in our prisons. They were joined by several members of the House Health Care Committee. Corrections commissioner Nick Deml also gave a brief presentation. (more…)

By |2023-08-09T13:59:09+00:00August 9, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Health Care Accounts

Since the tragic death of David Mitchell in April, we have been gathering accounts from incarceration-impacted people around Vermont. The resulting stories, from currently and formerly incarcerated people and their friends and family, tells the real story of how people’s physical and mental health is being mistreated if not ignored in our prisons. Below are a dozen examples. (more…)

By |2023-07-07T10:58:53+00:00July 6, 2023|Uncategorized|2 Comments
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