A groundbreaking study of inmates with “serious functional impairment” (SFI) found that at least nine people in Vermont prisons are in need of hospitalization. The independent study to determine if the needs of inmates with SFI were being met underscored a number of other unmet needs.
When Robert Appel thinks about his 11 years as executive director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, he’s not thinking about the high-profile cases involving gay weddings and breast-feeding mothers. Instead, he finds himself reflecting back to 1993.
More than 95,000 Vermonters currently receive 3SquaresVT benefits. This puts Vermont 5th in the nation for reaching those in need. However, only 30% of Vermont's eligible seniors, age 60 and over, get these important food benefits to help them stay healthy and independent. The Department for Children and Families (DCF) is working hard to change that.
The House Human Services Committee voted 9-1 Friday to go along with much of Gov. Peter Shumlin's multifaceted plan for how to replace the state's flood-closed psychiatric hospital.
Corrections officials told a Senate panel on Thursday that a proposed statewide Gang Task Force will help them contain a growing gang problem in Vermont prisons, where corrections officers have already identified members of the Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings and various white supremacy groups.
Prison officials, backed by Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito, hope to make more outside recreation available to inmates serving time at a Massachusetts jail where some Vermont inmates rioted last month.
Vermont's congressional delegation is taking on President Obama over home heating assistance. The President's budget plan is expected to cut funding for the five billion dollar Low Income Home Energy Assistance program in half -- reversing the doubling in spending that the program received in 2008.Link to full article
Vermont will officially enter winter next week having received $14.4 million of the total $14.9 million in heating fuel assistance that the federal government has thus far earmarked for the entire season. And that $14.9 million total is considerably less than the $25.6 million the state received in federal heating fuel help last year.Link to full article
Vermont's commissioner of corrections says the state's prison population is declining. Commissioner Andrew Pallito says the state is now holding about 2,100 inmates. That figure is down from about 2,300 in October of last year. Pallito says the decrease is a result of the governor's "Challenges for Change" budget initiative, which directed the department to save $7 million.Link to full article
Andrew Pallito was named commissioner of the Vermont Corrections Department on the last day of 2008, a time when the department’s prison population was still expanding and the state’s financial picture was beginning to contract. Now, 18 months later, the collision between those two forces has Pallito and his 1,042-employee department up against a wall: In the coming year, he has to reduce his budget by $7 million to meet the cost-cutting mandates of the state’s Challenges for Change.Link to full article
An investigation into the death of a woman in a Vermont prison reveals problems with communication and health care staffing. The Rutland Herald says a report released last week by the nonprofit group Disability Rights Vermont found the death of 23-year-old Ashley Ellis of Rutland could have been prevented if the Department of Corrections and the health care contractor Prison Health Services had done a better job.Link to full article
As part of the "Challenges for Change" legislation that lawmakers passed this session, the state plans to release more non-violent offenders from prison to save money. But when those inmates leave prison before their maximum sentence is up, they're required to find stable housing. The Department of Corrections says that when it releases an inmate without housing plans in place, that person usually ends up back behind bars. But for an offender with the support of housing, the success rate is closer to 50 percent.Link to full article
The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state's inmates serving time in a Kentucky prison who want to use debit cards for telephone calls and get free postage stamps just like inmates in Vermont prisons."It's a good precedent if we're going to be sending Vermont offenders out of state they should be logically and common-sensically treated the same as inmates who are serving time in state," said Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio. As of Friday when the ruling was issued, 573 Vermont inmates were housed in Kentucky to ease overcrowding in Vermont's prisons.Link to full article
Attorney General William Sorrell said he’s concerned that a spate of cases involving alleged criminal conduct by police officers might be undermining the trust Vermonters deserve to have in their police departments. “I recognize there may be a perception out there that there’s a problem, that somehow there are more rogue cops, or cops who are not trustworthy, for a state of our size,” Sorrell said. Sorrell said he does not share that perception, but if that’s what others believe, it’s a problem. “The public has got to believe in the integrity of those who enforce the law,” he said.Link to full article