Courts & Corrections

House lawmakers introduce legislation to reduce prison population

A group of House lawmakers has introduced legislation aimed at reducing the state’s prison population in order to avoid sending inmates to out-of-state facilities.

The legislation builds off ideas offered by criminal justice reform advocates late last year.

H.221, referred to the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions, would do that by expanding court diversion and deferred sentencing for nonviolent offenders. It also increases the threshold for felony theft from $900 to $3,000, and eliminates the sentence of life without parole for people younger than 18. (Another bill, H.62

The bill would prevent the Department of Corrections from prohibiting otherwise legal behavior in its terms of release, unless the terms are required for public safety. Finally, it removes DOC’s responsibility to approve an inmate’s post-release housing.

There are 200 to 240 people eligible for release from corrections daily who are held for lack of housing, according to former state Rep. Suzi Wizowaty, now with the group Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform.

“If we want to create safer communities, we need a more effective response to interpersonal harm — and that means putting fewer people in jail. And just reducing the numbers by 400 would eliminate the out-of-state contract and save the state $12 million,” Wizowaty said in a statement.


If you read us, please support us.

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer.

We moderate every comment. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

Privacy policy
Morgan True

Recent Stories

  • Matt Taylor

    ‘The bill would prevent the Department of Corrections from prohibiting otherwise legal behavior in its terms of release, unless the terms are required for public safety”.
    I guess the rules that DOC sets that enable them to supervise the offenders and try to have them emulate good conduct in the community are going to become suggestions.

    Removing the responciblity for DOC to approve the post-release housing sounds like a bad idea. I guess it will take a bunch of people convicted of sex offenses to be across the street from a school or live around children……

    • Thomas Gauthier

      If you believe that the “blanket” conditions set by DOC not the JUDICARY are legal please think about the phrase “separation of powers.” DOC tried to force me to complete sex offender treatment because I had consensual sex with a girl that I believe to be sixteen.(15yrs8months) I got the state’s VTPSA supervisors to give me a letter that states I do not need the treatment and cannot be forced to participate/complete. Personally I think your statement is from a DOC underling shooting for job security. Unfortunately for you the truth comes out and EVENTUALLY the lies will be straightened out. Until then spend your tax dollars watching me when your brother or cousin is having a sleep over with your kids; damn fool @Matt Taylor.

      I have been prevented from working at my own business because I could not find a 9-5 job. How does that help me reintegrate into the community? Honestly, is my crime 13vsa3252(c) that serious it constitutes lifetime probation on house arrest type conditions? Please be mindful that I havenot been pulled over or committed a crime since 2009.
      Look me up online if you want. I do odd jobs in the central Vermont area because I cannot find suitable employment for “DOC” Thanks for reading. Search bethel Vermont.

  • Pat McGarry

    The above article says of the proposed bill ” Finally, it removes DOC’s responsibility to approve an inmate’s post-release housing.”

    The proposed bill says”…preclude DOC from keeping a nonviolent
    1
    offender past his or her minimum due
    to lack of community housing unless
    2
    release will pose a risk to the safety of a victim or witness”.

    The article is vague as to the limits put on DOC

  • Jim Candon

    This is not a good idea.

  • Connie Godin

    A lot of good ideas in this bill.