By now, it's become clear the Scott administration's approach to public safety is backward. At a time when our communities are calling for investments to address people's basic needs – housing, harm reduction, healthcare – the administration wants to pass harsher criminal laws to lock more people up, and to spend tens of millions of dollars on new prison construction.
As we fight back against new misguided "tough on crime" legislation this year, we are asking you to urge your representatives to reject the governor's proposals and to insist that we invest in people – not prisons.
This year, the legislature is debating whether to spend millions of dollars to begin construction on a new women's prison in Vermont. With a likely price tag of more than $80 million dollars, this proposed prison would be far bigger and more restrictive than Vermont needs.
Instead of devoting state resources to prison expansion, we owe it to our communities to keep advancing policies and investments that prevent and reduce incarceration. That means ending wealth-based incarceration for people who can't afford bail, expanding harm reduction strategies to support people with substance use disorder, and taking a second look at excessive sentences – not putting more people behind bars.
Vermont has already come a long way to reform our criminal legal system, resulting in a 40% drop in the state's prison population over the past five years. We can make further progress – for safer, more equitable, and more resilient communities – with more smart justice reforms.
Stay tuned for more updates on our fight to invest in people, not prisons – and please contact your legislators today.