May 30, 2024  

Contact: Stephanie Gomory, Communications Director, ACLU of Vermont, [email protected], (802) 223-6304 x111

(Montpelier, VT) – Governor Scott signed S.58 yesterday, a bill that will further criminalize drug-related offenses and charge more juveniles as adults. 

The following statement was issued by ACLU of Vermont Advocacy Director Falko Schilling: 

“S.58 is one of multiple bills the legislature enacted that will send more people to prison without addressing the root causes of instability in our communities. Taken together, these bills increase penalties for low-level thefts, further criminalize drug-related offenses, call for more juveniles to be charged as adults, and again delay implementation of juvenile justice reforms. 

“S.58 perpetuates the failed war on drugs and the systemic racism in our criminal legal system, and that is nothing to celebrate. S.58 makes it easier to convict someone for knowingly possessing, distributing, or selling a regulated drug, which will put more people in prison and exacerbate existing disparities. This legislation also expands the possibilities for youth to be prosecuted in adult court, and delays–once again—implementation of Vermont’s 'Raise the Age' statutes.  

"We know from experience that mass incarceration does not make our communities safer, and neither will S.58. In the coming year, we look forward to resuming the progress of previous legislative sessions with smarter, evidence-based criminal justice reforms.”