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Rally and March to End Over-Incarceration

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 5-6 PM. there will be a rally and march to call for an end to over-incarceration in VT. The rally starts at 5 PM at Pliny Park.

Featured speakers are Shela Linton, who serves on The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile System Advisory Panel created by H.308 and Anna Stevens of Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform (VCJR). Participants in the rally will be invited to read anonymous excerpts from letters that VCJR has received.

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform is spearheading a campaign to end unnecessary incarceration in VT, where the incarceration rate has grown 300% for men and 1,000% for women since 1985, despite crime being at its lowest point since the 1960s. About one-third of Vermont’s prisoners are behind bars for non-violent offenses. In addition, some people are being held in prison beyond their eligible release date for lack of housing. Others are in jail for technical violations—non-criminal violations of conditions of release. Still others are elderly and pose little risk of re-offending.

In Vermont, the disparity in incarceration rates for Black people to White people is 10:1, which is double the national rate of 5:1. The Racial Disparities panel on which Shela sits is tasked by the Legislature with making recommendations to end these disparities.

Join this rally and march to call on Vermont’s criminal justice system to end over-incarceration and racial disparities throughout the system.


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Freedom March: Working to reduce high prison population

Full Text: http://reformer.com/stories/freedom-march-working-to-reduce-high-prison-...

By Harmony Birch hbirch@reformer.com
BRATTLEBORO — Imagine a world where the focus of the justice system wasn't on incarceration.

That's one of Eesha Williams' goals. On Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Pliny Park, Williams will host a Freedom March to show support for reducing prison populations.

The United States has three times as many prisoners as Europe, according to Williams. He thinks that Vermont and the United States, as a whole, need to stop jailing so many people, especially for non-violent crimes.

Vermont doesn't have a huge incarceration population. In 2016 there were approximately 1,750 people incarcerated in the state system, according to Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform. But while Vermont may be seen as progressive in comparison to other states, it doesn't escape common trends of the nation as a whole.

Vermont has one of the worst black-to-white incarceration rates in the country, said Williams.

Vermont Department of Corrections reports that nearly 11 percent of Vermont's prison population is black, while black Vermonters make up only 1 percent of the general population. VCJR states that nearly one in 14 black men in Vermont are jailed.

Aside from humanitarian concerns for imprisoning people, the VCJR points to the enormous cost of imprisoning people — $60,000 per year for each person Vermont incarcerates.

Stevens will be one of the speakers at the march, along with Shela Linton, a Brattleboro resident and member of the Racial Justice Panel, and Ellen Schwartz, the president of the Vermont Workers Center.



"In Vermont, the disparity in incarceration rates for Black people to White people is 10:1, which is double the national rate of 5:1. The Racial Disparities panel on which Shela sits is tasked by the Legislature with making recommendations to end these disparities."

Ratios like that make me question those arrests/convictions. That's a statistical abnormality.

This really needs to be corrected, immediately, and it is good to see that people are taking this on.

Perhaps one recommendation would be to review cases of those currently serving time.


"review cases of those currently serving time"

That's a good idea. The problem is how to set that up. To deal with racial disparity do they just review current timers who are nonwhite? If the current case levels remains unaltered, meaning that no one was found to be there who shouldn't be there, what's next?

Prison racial disparity began in the 1880s with incarceration of Asian's, specifically, Chinese because of opium use. White racists then decried the mixing of whites with the Chinese. Opium nights were as common as beer nights.

Who is going to restart the understanding that the drug war is a major driver of the prison-derived race war? The drug war is mentioned less and less these days?


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