Forum Post: A rising number of detainees is creating prison issues; new bill would end out-of-state incarcerations by Alicia Freese
Posted 11 months ago on March 23, 2013, 4:01 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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“They had a lot of nos, and eventually you stop asking,” she said.
Matthew Valerio, Vermont’s defender general, said the problem boils down to an across-the-board aversion to risk: “Who is going to take the political heat when someone is released and something bad happens?”
Valerio offered the committee a solution that would saddle the Legislature with the possibility of political backlash.
“If people are really serious about forcing home detention,” he said, the Legislature should designate the number of detainees it wants in home detention and leave it up to the Department of Corrections to choose the least risky candidates.
Later in the day, members of the Institutions and Corrections Committee turned to their attention from people awaiting sentences to those serving lengthy stays in jail who are transferred out of state.
Vermont currently sends inmates to private prisons in Kentucky and Arizona; both are run by the Corrections Corporation of America.
Wizowaty’s bill would prohibit housing Vermont inmates in private prisons as of July 1, 2014, and the legislation would bring all out-of-state prisoners back to Vermont within three years. It requires the corrections commissioner to draft a plan.
Wizowaty says the bill wasn’t a response to any specific occurrences at the two private prisons. She said it’s important to end a practice that amounts to the state subsidizing “a private industry that makes a profit off of incarceration.”
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