Corrections disbands inmate work crews, prison industries

DOC expanding inmate education and training, blames judiciary for less work crew sentencing

The Vermont Department of Corrections today announced the Community Restitution Program (“work crew”) will end this summer, a May 15 DOC statement said. Department officials state the program is no longer viable due to a substantial decrease in the judiciary’s sentencing to work crew in recent years coupled with reforms to the Department’s community supervision practices.

Work crew sentences were traditionally used to prevent the incarceration of low-risk offenders. Rather than prison, the courts sentenced individuals to pre-determined employment in the community for varying periods of time. Department officials however say these sentences inadvertently created barriers to maintaining employment; individuals were also immediately remanded to incarceration upon failure to complete a work crew sentence.

Department officials attribute the decline in work crew sentences to the success of criminal justice reforms, including Justice Reinvestment I and II initiatives. Vermonters whose offenses historically warranted work crew sentences are now most commonly referred to diversion programs, community justice centers, or receive probation.

The termination of work crew and reduced penalties for non-violent and low-risk offenders comes as the Department expands skills-based training and educational opportunities, including universal free Community College of Vermont classes for all incarcerated people and Department staff, and ending its correctional industries.

“As a Department, we’re continuously striving to lead the nation and provide those in our care and custody the tools they need to succeed in Vermont’s communities,” said Nicholas J. Deml, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. “This includes assessing our programs and practices to ensure they contribute to an individual’s success outside prison walls. Reducing barriers to employment and providing more comprehensive vocational training aligns us closer to our stated mission and values, and Vermont’s approach to justice.”

VDC this morning emailed DOC officials asking if the work crew/prison industries elimination also is related to the 2022 passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery and indentured servitude. Prison reform advocates supporting the amendment have likened inmate employment to involuntary servitude. The clear answer from DOC: No.

The elimination of work crew and Vermont Correctional Industries (VCI) are not, in any part, related to the Constitutional Amendment regarding slavery,” Communications Director Haley Sommer said.

“There were several contributing factors that resulted in the decision to terminate work crew sentencing, including Justice Reinvestment I and II initiatives,” Sommer said. “The changes to VCI result from the Department’s initiatives to increase skills-based training and adapt our vocational programs to meet the modern workforce and employment market.”

Categories: Crime, Uncategorized

6 replies »

  1. Let’s do away with all consequences for criminal offences ! You can pass go, and collect $200 ! Maybe even reward criminals for misbehaving by giving them freebees to show up for court dates ? What do you mean some places are already doing this ? (NYC) How’s that working ? What crime is up ? Unfreakin’ believable !

  2. Want free college? Just commit a crime.Brilliant.
    It’s all rainbows and unicorns. They’ve brought hug a thug to a new level. Congratulations.

  3. OK, so no more labor for non violent offenders…whatever. Let’s talk about the violent ones, chain gangs, involuntary servitude, slavery, call it what you will. Commit a crime, lose your place in a free society, but hey, there ain’t no free lunch…so you gotta work to earn your keep. Chain them together, supervise them with two shotgun toting deputy sheriffs.

  4. Welcome to Vermont: Home of Assisted Suicide. Abortion for All. Legal Prostitution. Perversion in Public Schools. Degenerate Public Lawmakers. Defunding of Police. Highest Tax Rates. Maple Syrup.

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