For a few months now, we at VPIRG have been expanding some of our research, advocacy, and organizing to include issues related to criminal justice reform and public safety. And we’ve been following the shocking reporting of mismanagement coming out of the Mississippi prison that houses more than 200 incarcerated Vermonters.
The prison is owned by CoreCivic, a private prison corporation. 84% of the Vermonters incarcerated there tested positive for COVID 19 because of the prison’s failure to provide enough testing and protections. On top of that, people there reported they were not able to get the basic medical care they needed. This type of treatment is inhumane, and the worst could have been prevented if we had not sent incarcerated Vermonters out of state. The bottom line is: we need to stop prison for profit and bring Vermonters back to Vermont.
The outbreak in this prison was predictable and preventable. It is also unacceptable – no one was sentenced to suffer or die from this virus.
The practice of imprisonment for profit is immoral, and corporations like CoreCivic should not exist. The idea that the more prisoners there are – and the longer their sentences – the more a company profits? That’s unconscionable. It’s far from the only problem with our criminal justice system, but Vermont’s participation in CoreCivic’s prison-for-profit scheme needs to end as soon as possible. And we can do all that without building new prisons by safely reducing the number of people incarcerated and investing in community-based solutions.
Vermont now has until October 1st to decide whether to renew the contract with CoreCivic, so this is an important time for us to reevaluate our incarceration system. While we know that we can’t bring everyone home overnight, the state needs to develop a clear plan that safely brings people home as soon as possible—and that plan must not include new prison construction.
Governor Scott must lay out a clear plan to stop sending Vermonters to out of state prisons and to continue reducing the number of people incarcerated in-state.
The process of bringing people home needs to start now. With your help we can ensure that Vermont no longer supports corporations that profit from the imprisonment of other people. Please contact the governor today.