Introduced by Representatives Donovan of Burlington, Branagan of Georgia, Head of S. Burlington and Lorber of Burlington
Subject: Corrections; study committee; female offenders
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to require a summer study regarding issues affecting women offenders in Vermont.
AN ACT RELATING TO WOMEN OFFENDERS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. STUDY COMMITTEE; WOMEN OFFENDERS
(a) There is created a committee to study and propose solutions to problems as they relate to women offenders in Vermont. In particular, the committee shall:
(1) Explore whether and to what extent women are incarcerated at a higher rate than males who are convicted of the same offense. If the study determines that there is indeed a difference in the incarceration rate, then the committee shall attempt to determine the causes underlying this determination and propose potential legislative responses.
(2) Identify, explore, and propose legislative responses to the family‑related issues facing many women inmates, including issues of guardianship.
(3) Identify, explore, and propose legislative responses to the issues many women inmates face upon release from the facility relating to the need to find suitable housing.
(4) Identify, explore, and propose legislative responses to the issues many women offenders face relating to the need to access adequate mental health and substance abuse treatment, both within the facilities and in the community.
(b) Members of the committee shall include:
(1) Two members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house.
(2) Two members of the senate appointed by the committee on committees.
(3) The commissioner of corrections or the commissioner’s designee.
(4) The commissioner of the department for children and families or the commissioner’s designee.
(5) The defender general or the defender general’s designee.
(6) The executive director of the office of state’s attorney or the executive director’s designee.
(7) The executive director of the Vermont commission on women or the executive director’s designee.
(8) The director of the Vermont network against domestic violence or the director’s designee.
(9) A representative of the Women’s mentoring program to be selected by the executive directors of Mercy Connections and Northern New England Tradeswomen.
(c) At its initial meeting, which shall be scheduled by the legislative council, the committee shall select a member to serve as chair. The committee may meet four times during adjournment and may meet more often subject to the approval of the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate. The services of the legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall be available to the committee.
(d) On or before January 15, 2007, the committee shall provide to the members of the joint legislative corrections oversight committee a report detailing its work and proposing legislative solutions to address the issues it identifies. If applicable, the report shall include a budget detailing the cost of initiating and operating any proposed services, including potential nonstate funding sources, and a projection of the financial impact the proposals would have on future state capital and general fund appropriations.
(e) For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, legislative members of the committee shall be entitled to compensation for services and reimbursement for expenses as provided by 2 V.S.A. § 406(a).
The Vermont General Assembly
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