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Justice Reinvestment in Vermont

Justice Reinvestment | Vermont

Alison Lawrence 3/4/2014

Vermont flagFaced with a high and unsustainable rate of prison population growth, a Justice Reinvestment Working Group was launched in 2007. A 2008 act expanded screening and assessment of offenders for substance abuse and mental health needs and allows reduced probation terms for some compliant offenders. The law also includes community treatment services in reentry plans and allows electronic monitoring to improve supervision of and target resources on those offenders at highest risk. One facility was closed, and another was converted to a therapeutic work camp. The reforms were backed by a $3.9 million reinvestment in assessment, treatment and supervision services, including transitional housing. The General Assembly has since expanded eligibility for alternatives to incarceration, such as house arrest and furlough, and reinvested an additional $6 million in prison and community-based treatment and reentry services. As of January 2013, the prison population, which was expected to grow by more than 20 percent, has declined by nearly 5 percent.

Legislation

HB 859 (2008)

Creates levels of community supervision based on assessed risk and offense severity. Caps supervision officer caseloads based on supervision level. Authorizes the use of administrative supervision and allows for early termination for some probationers. Permits the use of electronic monitoring for community supervision. Requires substance abuse assessments be used for drug and property offenders to determine appropriate treatment services. Closes one prison and converts another into a secure treatment facility. Directs savings resulting from this act to be used for expansion of substance abuse treatment, pre-sentencing assessments, reentry housing and electronic monitoring equipment.

 

SB 292 (2010)

Creates a home confinement sentence as an alternative to prison. Requires sentence discharge for certain non-violent offenders who have completed all court-ordered requirements and have served a specified portion of their sentence. Requires nonviolent inmates be released into supervision after serving their minimum sentence and completing required programming. Requests collaboration among courts, corrections, police, state’s attorney and defender general to reduce the average daily number of inmates. Requests a report on strategies to reduce prison admissions and minimize the time served. Directs savings from this act be used for offender reentry services.

 

HB 792 (2010)

Caps the length of probation sentences for nonviolent crimes. Creates a pretrial home detention program and expands eligibility for court diversion and prison release programs. Authorizes the use of graduated sanctions for probation rule violations. Increases funding for in-prison and community residential treatment programs, community-based prevention and reentry services and electronic monitoring equipment.

 

HB 530 (2013)

Requires the corrections department to report to the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee on any FY2013 unobligated funds that could be used for on-going state justice reinvestment initiatives. Requires the committee to make recommendations to the Legislature on use of those funds for the FY2014 budget.

 

Full summaries of legislation can be found in NCSL’s Sentencing and Corrections Enactment Database.

State Resources

  • Vt. Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee’s annual reports that address justice reinvestment:
  • HB 859 (2008) reports:
  • Vt. corrections department justice reinvestment recommendations (December 2007)

Additional Resources

 

Return to NCSL’s Justice Reinvestment State Resources page or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice program. 

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