June 20, 2023

Stephanie Gomory, Communications Director
[email protected], 802-223-6304 x111

Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Senate voted today to recommit S.6 back to Senate Judiciary, meaning the state legislature was unsuccessful in overriding Governor Scott’s veto of the only significant police reform bill advanced in Vermont this year. The bill would prevent the use of deceptive and coercive police interrogation techniques on people under the age of 22. The legislation was passed with strong support in both the House and the Senate before Governor Scott vetoed it at the urging of law enforcement leaders who have consistently opposed police reform in Vermont. The Vermont Senate apparently lacked the votes to support an override.

The following statement was issued in response by ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall:

“Police shouldn’t lie to children, or to anyone. We want to thank the many state lawmakers who have championed and supported S.6, and we look forward to working with them to pass this commonsense reform into law later in the biennium. 

S.6 would protect Vermont youth from deceptive police interrogations by preventing police from threatening and lying to people under 22 years of age. These practices are known to elicit false confessions, derail investigations, and result in wrongful convictions of innocent people. An extensive body of research confirms that youth are particularly susceptible to deceptive tactics, and that Black people and people of color are overrepresented in instances of false confessions and in exoneration databases.

Through his veto, Governor Scott rejected a meaningful opportunity to advance racial justice and police accountability in our state. Three years after Vermont stated its commitment to eradicate systemic racism, it appears the governor has moved on. The people of Vermont deserve better.

It is also unfortunate that Vermont law enforcement leaders opposed this bill, just as they have consistently opposed any and all significant police reforms in recent years. This is not a recipe for building or restoring community trust in police.

The people of Vermont will continue to insist that police be more accountable to the communities they serve. The ACLU of Vermont looks forward to working with legislators and their constituents to pass S.6 into law to join the growing number of states who have already adopted this important police accountability measure.”