Recent Posts

State to try new drug to fight opiate addiction

MONTPELIER — The state will begin offering a drug to inmates leaving prison that blocks the brain’s pleasure center, with the goal of reducing relapses into opiate addiction. Beginning in January, inmates leaving Marble Valley Correctional Facility will have access to naltrexone, a drug that prevents a user from feeling high when ingesting an opiate such as heroin or oxycodone. So far, the state has trained 50 health care providers to prescribe naltrexone, a drug that is administered once a month by injection; however, no special training needed and the drug can be administered by any prescriber. Currently, the drug is approved for use in treating alcoholism and opiate addiction. While the drug itself is not new — some doctors have been prescribing the drug all along — the state is looking to expand its use in the hope of curbing the state’s opiate epidemic. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Reversing the trend of rising incarceration rates

or most of the last two decades, Vermont’s prison inmate population has been rising. Between 1997 and 2008, it grew by 86 percent. Projections made in 2007 said that Vermont’s inmate population would grow to 2,619 by November 2015. After years of work to reform Vermont’s criminal justice system that trend has been reversed, and today Vermont has 1,734 inmates, 885 less than projected. When I first ran for Governor I made reforming the criminal justice system a priority because it is the right thing to do. Continue Reading →

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State’s inmate population declines to lowest level in over a decade

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The number of inmates in Vermont prisons is at its lowest level since the early 2000s, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday. On Monday there were 1,734 inmates in Vermont prisons, a decline of 17.5 percent since Shumlin took office in early 2011 when there were 2,103 inmates in custody. Also, the number of inmates being held in out-of-state prisons has fallen 52 percent since Shumlin took office from 562 to 271 today. Shumlin cited a series of policy changes and new laws for the drop, including alternatives to incarceration for first offenders, the elimination of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana and making it easier for people convicted of some crimes to get jobs with the state. Continue Reading →

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Court ruling will expand access to public records

MONTPELIER — The recent settlement of a long-running court case means the documents produced by a private company that does business with Vermont is subject to the state’s public records law. After a three-year legal battle, the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont has reached a financial settlement with a private prison provider in a court case that concludes the records produced by the provider during its services for the state are subject to Vermont’s Public Records Act. “Vermont is essentially contracting out more and more government service work, and the question of access to records these contractors hold for the work they are doing for the government, the question will become more germane as people hold the government accountable,” said Allen Gilbert, executive director of ACLU-VT. The private company referred to in the court case is Corrections Corporation of America — or CCA — that court documents refer to as a “for profit, publicly traded Maryland corporation headquartered in Tennessee in the business of operating prisons.”

From 2007 until early 2015, Vermont contracted with CCA to house some of the state’s prison population, with several hundred prisoners held at a private facility in Kentucky. In 2012, Prison Legal News, monthly publication dealing with prisoner rights published by the Human Rights Defense Center in West Brattleboro, filed a public record request with CCA, looking for records of any money spent related to settlements or judgments against Vermont in relation to the services provided by CCA. Continue Reading →

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State to move out-of-state inmates to Michigan

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Corrections says the state’s prison inmates being housed out of state are going to be moved to Michigan. The department said Tuesday it had signed a contract with the GEO Group to house the inmates at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan. Currently Vermont is housing 319 inmates at facilities in Kentucky and Arizona. That contract expires June 20. Continue Reading →

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