The people of Vermont support criminal justice reform, and four in five want to reduce our overreliance on prisons by investing in community-based alternatives.
Policymakers have responded and have reduced our prison population by about 40 percent from its peak over a decade ago. Learn more here about our Smart Justice campaign and what we've accomplished. Still, there is much more we need to do to ensure our communities have the resources they need and that prisons are used only as a last resort.
A proposal under consideration in the state legislature in 2023 would jeopardize that progress, drastically expanding Vermont's prison system at enormous costs to individuals and taxpayers, while ignoring the opportunity we have to advance thoughtful, evidence-driven reforms to reduce our overreliance on prisons. In March, we issued a letter to Vermont's legislators urging them to reject this proposal. But your elected leaders need to hear from you, too.
The proposal to replace and expand the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) is expected to cost at least $71 million – though the administration's own estimates suggest that number could be much higher – and additional prison construction could cost taxpayers more than $500 million over the next decade.
The legislature should reject this plan and focus on advancing evidence-driven policy reforms and funding investments that enable our communities to thrive – and take action to improve the conditions facing incarcerated people today. Let your lawmakers know you oppose prison expansion in Vermont.
Our communities need investment and support to address extreme housing insecurity, soaring mental health needs, a worsening opioid epidemic, vast racial and economic injustices, perpetually underfunded education programs, and more. Investments in programs and services that meet our basic needs help reduce crime and support healthy, stable communities.
Before committing millions of taxpayer dollars to new prison construction and expansion, we urge Vermont legislators to focus on expanding alternatives to traditional prisons—including smaller, regional facilities and community-based supports and re-entry programs—and to continue reducing Vermont’s prison population through evidence-based policy reforms.