Criminal Justice Reform
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis: an absence of meaningful police oversight and accountability; glaring racial disparities—in police encounters and incarceration rates—compounded by the failed war on drugs; the growing criminalization of poverty through excessive bail, fines, and fees; and, an epidemic of mass incarceration. The U.S. represents just 4 percent of the world’s population, yet we lock up 2.3 million people, nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Americans across the political spectrum have seen enough and are speaking up to demand sweeping reforms.
Vermont is not immune to any of these problems—to the contrary, Vermont’s criminal justice system still features huge racial disparities, a lack of police accountability, and a bloated prison system: roughly one-third of Vermont inmates are sent to out-of-state prisons. Through strategic litigation, targeted advocacy, public education, and in coalition with impacted communities, the ACLU of Vermont is reforming a system that has failed our state for too long.
In January of 2018 the ACLU of Vermont launched Smart Justice Vermont, a campaign to reduce Vermont's incarcerated population by 50% and reverse the unnaceptable racial disparities in Vermont's prisons and jails.