Vermont’s legislature is back in session, and when it comes to civil rights there’s a lot at stake this year. Working with legislators, allied organizations, and ACLU members and supporters, the ACLU of Vermont is pursuing an ambitious agenda to protect and advance the rights and liberties of all Vermonters.
Criminal Justice Reform
Vermont sends far too many people to prison for too long—at a cost to taxpayers of more than $100 million annually—and incarcerates Black men at a higher rate than any other state. Vermonters living with addiction and mental illness are locked up instead of receiving effective treatment.
Together, we can cut Vermont’s prison population in half and address racial disparities through bail reform, changes to sentencing laws, and by holding local prosecutors accountable. We are already working on a number of pending bills that can make a big difference, with more to come.
Open Government Reform
Transparency is key to safeguarding public trust in government, but the Center for Public Integrity gives Vermont an ‘F’ in access to public information. Too often, Vermont agencies reflexively deny legitimate records requests requests—or charge inconsistent and exorbitant fees—with no valid justification and few if any consequences.
That’s why the ACLU is working with a coalition of journalists, NGOs, and Vermont residents to reform Vermont’s public records law, ensuring that our government is more transparent and accountable to the public.
Stronger Privacy Protections
With new technologies come new threats to our privacy, and the ACLU is fighting to strengthen Vermonters’ privacy protections—by prohibiting Vermont from assisting the federal government in collecting electronic data without a warrant, limiting police access to millions of Automatic License Plate Reader images, and requiring private companies that collect personal data to better protect Vermonters’ private information.
A Vermont That Works for Everyone
This year, we have tremendous opportunity and great responsibility to invest more in healthy families and communities. The ACLU is advocating for Vermont to raise the minimum wage, pass paid family leave, establish universal primary care, and prioritize investment in mental health care. And, we’ll be urging the legislature to implement the recommendations of its racial justice panels, including a K-12 ethnic studies curriculum in public schools.
At a time of extreme national division, we must stand united to build a Vermont where everyone’s rights are respected. We encourage all Vermonters to stand up and speak out to make that vision a reality.