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ACT NO. 63

(S. 156)

Corrections; good time; furlough; graduated sanctions; deferred sentences; parole board; assault with bodily fluids; and other miscellaneous issues

This act addresses miscellaneous issues relating to the department of corrections and Vermont offenders.

Sec. 1. This section makes a variety of findings regarding offender statistics, many of which were a part of the August 19, 2004 report of the governor's commission on corrections overcrowding.

* * * Good Time * * *

Sec. 2.

Subsection (a) requires that departmental bookkeeping be updated to reflect good time reductions for time actually earned before July 1, 2005.

Subsection (b) provides that each inmate who committed a crime before July 1, 2005 will prospectively receive all good time reductions to which the inmate might potentially be entitled in the future in one lump sum under whatever system was in place at the time s/he committed the crime.

Subsection (c) is a technical provision to ensure that subsections (a) and (b) apply to persons who committed a crime before July 1, 2005 but are not sentenced until after June 30, 2005.

Subsection (d) requires that notice be provided to victims and offenders regarding the impact of this section on minimum and maximum sentences.

Sec. 3. This section repeals 28 V.S.A. § 811 (good time) so that there will be no reduction in minimum or maximum terms for inmates who commit a crime after June 30, 2005 (except while in a work camp as provided in Sec. 4 below).

Sec. 4. This section provides that a work camp inmate may receive a 1:1

reduction in the minimum and maximum terms of incarceration upon demonstration of a high level of performance in the program.

Sec. 5. This section was necessary to ensure that all work camp inmates, regardless of when the crime was committed, are eligible to receive the 1:1 reduction provided for in Sec. 4.

* * * Furlough * * *

Sec. 6. This grants the commissioner of corrections the discretion to award furlough up to 90 days prior to the expiration of the minimum term of all offenders for purposes of reintegrating into the community. It also authorizes the commissioner discretion to award up to five days per month of additional reintegration furlough time to offenders who earn it and who have not been convicted of one of the "Big 13" crimes or of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Sec. 7. This section states that it is the legislature's intent that reintegration furlough will have the effect of reducing the total number of Vermont offenders housed in out-of-state correctional facilities.

* * * Graduated Sanctions * * *

Sec. 8. This section amends 28 V.S.A. § 304 by requiring the department of corrections to adopt rules establishing guidelines to assist courts to impose graduated sanctions for offenders who violate conditions of probation as an alternative to automatic revocation of the offender's probation and imposition of the original sentence of incarceration. It also requires courts to consider the alternative sanctions guidelines established by the department.

* * * Deferred Sentences * * *

Sec. 9. This section amends 13 V.S.A. § 7041 by permitting the court to order a deferred sentence without the agreement of the state's attorney in cases in which the respondent is under the age of 28 and is not charged with a "listed crime."

* * * Conditions of Release * * *

Sec. 10. This section amends 13 V.S.A. § 7554, which addresses release of a criminal defendant prior to trial, by permitting a court to order a defendant to participate in nonresidential drug or alcohol treatment as a condition of release. In connection with this authority, the court is specifically directed to take into consideration the defendant's ability to comply with the order of treatment and the availability of treatment resources

* * * Parole Board * * *

Secs. 11-15. These sections make various amendments to the structure of the parole board, the status of the executive director of the board, and the compensation received by board members. Sec. 15 requires the secretary of human services to update the parole board's manual, develop guidelines to assist the board to make consistent, empirically based decisions, and develop training and orientation for board members and staff.

* * * Transitional Housing * * *

Sec. 16. This section requires the department of corrections to work with various state and local entities and individuals to study and develop a detailed proposal by which structured transitional housing could be provided to offenders upon release into the community.

* * * Mission of Department of Corrections * * *

Sec. 17. This section requires that, within 30 days of sentencing, the department of corrections will begin to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to prepare each inmate for eventual return to the community.

* * * Corrections Oversight Committee * * *

Secs. 18-19. The joint legislative corrections oversight committee was established by session law in 2002 and is due to expire on June 30, 2005. These sections create this committee by statute to continue its work of providing oversight over the department of corrections and assistance to the many legislative committees whose jurisdiction includes corrections issues.

* * * Incentives * * *

Sec. 20. This section requires the department of corrections to work with the corrections oversight committee to explore ways in which incentives can be offered to inmates to encourage positive behavior.

* * * Specialized Programs within Correctional Facilities * * *

Sec. 21. This section requires the department of corrections to develop a detailed proposal to provide specialized substance abuse and domestic violence programming within the correctional facilities.

* * * Ratio of Field Staff to Offenders in the Community * * *

Sec. 22. This section requires the department of corrections to go through rulemaking to create a system or plan that ensures that offenders are released into the community at a rate that allows adequate supervision.

* * * Global Positioning System * * *

Sec. 23. This section permits the department to proceed with a 20-person GPS pilot project.

* * * Indefinite Probation * * *

Sec. 24. This section requires the department of corrections to review the records of misdemeanants who are on indefinite probation and, by dates certain, to file petitions to release those who no longer need to be on probation.

* * * Assault with Bodily Fluids * * *

Sec. 25. This section makes it a misdemeanor for a person to intentionally cause certain body fluids to come into contact with a correctional facility employee or with a person lawfully present within a correctional facility.

* * * Savings from a Reduction in the Incarcerated Population * * *

Sec. 26. This section requires the department of corrections to provide reports regarding the numbers of inmates housed in out-of-state facilities and the net savings or cost of the various changes contained in this act.

* * * Sexual Exploitation of Offenders * * *

Sec. 27. This section requires a working group to draft a bill prohibiting sexual misconduct by corrections staff. It also requires that the corrections oversight committee draft such a bill if the working group is unable to reach agreement on a draft by September 15, 2005.

Effective Date: July 1, 2005 (with some provisions regarding when offenders may be eligible for reintegration furlough under Sec. 6).

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont