Vermont has some of the worst prison racial disparities in the country. In 2017, the rate at which Black adults entered correctional facilities in Vermont was more than seven times higher than the rate for white adults. This imbalance starts from initial law enforcement contact and continues through subsequent stages, such as pretrial detention, conviction, sentencing, and post-release opportunity.
In Vermont, Black and Latinx drivers are up to 3.9 times more likely to be pulled over while driving than white people. Black and Latinx people are also more likely to be searched as the result of a traffic stop, but only half as likely to be caught with illegal contraband as their white counterparts.
We can't solve a problem we can't see: while Vermont has a growing body of police stop data and inconsistent reporting by DOC, if we are going to identify and address the sources of disparities, we need much more accessible, systemwide data -- including courts, prosecutors, probation officers, and police.
Reducing the number of people who are imprisoned in Vermont will not on its own reduce the prison racial disparities that are among the worst in the nation. Vermont needs to invest in identifying the sources of racial disparities if we are going to fulfill our commitment to ending them.