State’s Attorney Sarah George “scapegoated” for public safety woes, she claims

Part II in a three-part series on the July 6 Chittenden County State’s Attorney candidate forum

By Guy Page

Yesterday’s news report that Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George suggested taxpayers reimburse retail stores for shoplifting losses raised eyebrows across Vermont, as the 30 comments on Vermont Daily Chronicle and many others elsewhere on social media demonstrate.

But that wasn’t the only interesting observation George made during her July 6 candidate forum with challenger Ted Kenney. The George Soros-backed incumbent also claimed she and her office are being “scapegoated” for growing public safety woes, and discussed her leadership in an organization seeking to abolish incarceration.

George and Kenney are seeking the Democratic nomination in the August 9 primary. There is no Republican running at present. It is likely that whoever wins the primary will serve as the county’s chief criminal prosecutor for the next four years.

In his opening statement, Kenney, a lawyer living in Williston, urged that “we need to change what’s going on now.” He cited 2021 Burlington crime stats:

  • A record-high number of opiate overdoses, up 33% over any previous year
  • Crime up 10%
  • Larceny the highest in five years
  • Unlawful mischief the highest in 10 years
  • Burglaries up, but rate of prosecution is down

Also, 2022 car thefts in South Burlington “are one or two cars away” from breaking last year’s record, which was twice the annual average for the last five years, Kenney said. He also pointed at increased attacks on Burlington firefighters and UVMMC nurses. 

In response, George said her office is being “scapegoated.” She deflected criticism of her office by assigning some blame to law enforcement, the pandemic, the public, the press, and even judges. 

About the recent revelation of assaults on hospital nurses, George said: “I was incredibly upset to hear that. I was not aware that it was as bad as it was.” Then she blamed police for allegedly not referring the cases for prosecution: “those cases had never been sent to our office by law enforcement. It’s important to first note that we can only do things with cases that are sent to us. We don’t control things that aren’t sent to us.”

People shouldn’t expect prosecution to solve public safety problems, George said. Instead, Chittenden County needs more social services.

“That being said, prosecution of a lot of these individuals involved in these cases isn’t going to solve the problem,” George said. “What those folks need are services in the community. They need help. Of course they need accountability, but that looks different for each person.”

George blamed the decline of public safety on the pandemic. 

“Ultimately, these people in our community, especially during Covid, and having nothing to do with the policies of my office but entirely to do with the incredible amount of people who are houseless, people with food insecurity, people who are struggling to find work and child care, and all of the other woes and issues that come with the pandemic, have been scapegoated on my office, and we are not the solution to it. 

“There are some things we can do for some of them. But individuals are going to be released pretrial for most offenses, and that is not going to protect people if these people’s needs aren’t being met. Whether a criminal charge and strict conditions of release are imposed or not, if they don’t have a place to stay, they don’t have a place to eat, they don’t have food to eat, they are going to continue to be an issue in our community, so that is what we should be focusing on.”

Kenney replied: “The things that can be done need to be done and need to be done more effectively.” Kenney, former chair of the county Democratic Committee, supports more social spending. “But we’re not living in the Great Depression. We’re not looking at 25% unemployment. What is going on in the criminal justice system needs to be addressed within the criminal justice system. If someone needs more conditions of release to protect the public, that’s something that needs to be advocated for.”

Then George placed responsibility for conditions of release on the judges. Prosecutors may ask, but it’s up to judges to impose, she advised. 

George insisted she and her hardworking staff of 14 are “asking for conditions of release when we can, but it’s ultimately up to the judge…..…the judges are deciding and implementing whatever conditions of release they think are necessary.”

And anyway, flight risk isn’t an issue because people haven’t needed to actually attend court, anyway. “During Covid people haven’t been required to come to court. In terms of a risk of flight, that hasn’t happened, because people haven’t been required to come to court.”

Kenney said a man who recently allegedly assaulted a firefighter had previously been charged with a simple assault in January, then charged with violating release orders, then charged with two burglaries and disorderly conduct. In none of these cases, Kenney claimed, did George’s office ask the judge to impose a curfew or release to a responsible adult. 

It’s the prosecutors job to ask, Kenney insisted. “The judge is generally going to give you [conditions] that you ask for. The conditions of release that could have been requested were not requested,” Kenney said. 

It’s not a good sign when the judge adds conditions of release that weren’t even requested by a prosecutor, Kenney added.

Then George blamed the press and the public for not understanding the deep complexity of prosecuting criminal cases. “The reality is that these cases are very complicated. There’s not a simple solution.”

Next: Part three in a three-part series on the July 6 Chittenden County State’s Attorney candidate forum: why Sarah George wants to close the women’s prison in Chittenden County and is one of two directors of Women’s Justice & Freedom Initiative, a not-for-profit dedicated to abolishing incarceration and closing all prisons.

Categories: politics

22 replies »

  1. No scapegoats here to be seen.
    Just bad people allowed to do bad things acted on by bad policy. Heading this are , unfortunately , some of the most ignorant policy makers this side of the Pecos.
    We are where we are as a function of allowing, piece by piece, our democracy to be over run by collective apathy at the ballot box. Want it to change direction? Better get out to use that ballot in a manner consistent with how it has been used against you.
    Not much time left …tick…tick….tick

  2. Vermont’s “Catch and Release” program started well before the pandemic. Her claim is nonsense.

  3. “food insecurity” – a euphemism tipoff from an unabashed Leftist. Also typical is the deflection we see from Sarah George for being accountable for prosecutions and crime. She wants the job but doesn’t want to do what it takes to do the job. This is what you get with these cultural Marxists. If Vermonters vote for her then they deserve what they get (i.e. more crime, violence and mayhem).

  4. The Dem/Prog playbook is being invoked, when being attacked for incompetence; play the victim card. Phil Scott appointed this woman to this office originally, then the Soros money flowed in to keep her in office. However, the real blame should go to the voters. No matter how much their candidates destroy the state, the dem/prog voters will pull the lever for more incompetence or agenda driven NWO nonsense. You can’t fix stupid and if you are smart you will stay out of Chittenden County and specifically Burlington.

  5. So–The person in charge of “public safety woes” complains & turns it on the PUBLIC for “not understanding the deep complexity” & the “houseless”, (pandemic?), the “food insecurity, work & child care..& all other woes & issues”? Maybe Slippery Sarah should install a “wheel of woes” to spin & choose EXCUSES daily. The PROBLEM here is CRACK & JUNK DEALERS shooting each other, y’know, FELONS w/unregistered GUNS? That you LET OUT on “conditions” because they’re “marginalized”? Don’t worry Sarah, being high on crack means they don’t EAT much or at all and surely don’t SLEEP much either! Don’t tell US what “reality” is, we’re seeing YOU release people who STEAL, BEAT, & SHOOT other DEALERS & “customers” who STEAL to feed their habits, the ONLY “services” they NEED are the ones offered behind BARS, all your “social workers & services” do not reach these people, your “de-carceration” B/S is NOT working, time for the voters to send you down the street talking to your lunch bucket. Goodbye Sarah, sat hi to Soros for us.

  6. George follows Biden’s claim that everything is the fault of the “Pandemic”! Or Putin, or Ukraine, or Trump!!

  7. Is it the office of State’s Attorney that is the target of her claim or Ms.George herself?
    Seems very clear, it is her actions and lack thereof that have caused the issues she wants so badly to deflect.
    While only Chittenden Cty. voters get a say in her job performance, all of Vermont suffers from her failed liberal/marxist ideas. The liberal world order has been tried here in Vermont and has failed greatly.

  8. Waw waw waw, boy do you sound like a dumbocrat
    Always passing the blame buck full of B.S

  9. I doubt the criminals that repeatedly offend are homeless or hungry. They seem to have places to stay and food to eat (if they want it) because the taxpayers are paying for those services now. They seem to have places to stay in the crack houses or where they hide out with other criminals or their families. SG claims that her office is providing for those criminals by giving them services. What about the services of the victims who are repeatedly victimized? While conditions of release may be a joke to the criminals who are released, there is reason to charge them if they violate those conditions. As to the medical staff being assaulted and charges not being brought, perhaps the police do not forward the cases as well as other cases because they know that SG and her office will not prosecute the offenders.

  10. Bless your heart Ms. George but this excuse network is…well lame. We’ve been remiss in not holding you to account sooner. Perhaps we’ll be more conscientious toward the next slate of elected officials.

  11. Yeah. The pandemic. Bwahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t know George was a stand-up comic too. She ought to be doing that FULL time & drop kick her state position so Vermonters can feel safe in public once again.

  12. Sarah, for those” whose needs are not met “, here are some good news :” Vermont is hiring ” !!!!
    And many employers are accommodating to the needs of their workers by providing housing and child care.
    I suggest you pass on the following list to” those whose needs are not met” :https://www.indeed.com/q-Hiring-l-Vermont-jobs.html?vjk=00fe4d45f9c85cd2. this may help your office staff.

    Regarding the man who assaulted the firefighter, then was charged with burglaries and committed disorderly conduct, I suggest you require a brain MRI .There is an excellent correlation with abnormal size of the part of the brain called striatum and criminal tendencies with psychopathic traits. This should help you tremendously with a swift decision of appropriate action necessary to protect citizens from harm. .https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220511/Psychopathic-individuals-have-1025-larger-striatum-in-the-brain-compared-to-others-finds-study.aspx#:~:text=Using%20magnetic%20resonance%20imaging%20(MRI,low%20or%20no%20psychopathic%20traits.
    I wonder if it is now time for the justice system to follow the neuro- anatomic science of criminal behavior in order to better assess the prevention of further crimes, and to establish the best possible protocol to protect civil society . Neuroimaging is becoming the state of the art tool to identify with a high degree of probability an anatomical abnormality connected to criminal behaviors . Sarah ,you wish to eliminate incarceration, please tell us what you would do with an individual who has a proven correlation with an abnormal striatum and a criminal behavior ? How would you protect his or her potential next victims ?
    It is time for Vermont to become a leader in using the tools that help assessing criminal tendencies scientifically and assure the best possible course of action to assure the protection of Vermont citizenry with the specific knowledge of what potential to recidivism a criminal may or may not exhibit.

  13. A lot of talk about voting her out, but with no Republican to run against her it can’t be done.

    • Yes Mr. Parry. A Republican replacement might be good but perhaps if we were more demanding of whoever is in office we’d see better government. If we exercised our responsibility to demand accountability we’d get more REPRESENTATION rather than the RULING and agenda-pursuit to which we’ve become accustomed.

  14. George, Blames the law enforcement for not referring cases to her office for prosecution as one of the reasons she doesn’t prosecute! Not only that but she blames the public plus her belonging to an organization promoting discontinuing all imprisonment, thus closing every prison. She surely doesn’t need to have the position of Prosecuting Attorney, responsible for the safety and welfare of our citizens!

  15. Sarah George deserves credit for being honest with her perspective on the current situation of criminal activity locally (at epidemic levels nationally) juxtaposed against what she would declare as oppressive social inequalities. Her commentary should provide sufficient foundation for voters to make an informed choice at the ballot box. That is after all how a democracy should work: candidates are honest with where they stand and voters respond accordingly.

  16. If she ever got to Washington, I think she would make AOC look smart. — throw the idiot out.

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