Introduced by Representatives Lorber of Burlington, Baker of West Rutland, Branagan of Georgia, Cross of Winooski, Fisher of Lincoln, Haas of Rochester, Komline of Dorset, Larson of Burlington and Pillsbury of Brattleboro
Subject: Corrections; study committee; long-range planning
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a working group, to be known as the “10–10–30 committee,” to develop a ten-year plan to decrease selected crime rates by 10 percent and to decrease the number of Vermont offenders confined to correctional facilities by 30 percent. The committee shall consider, among other things, current sentencing practices for nonviolent, first‑time offenders with an emphasis on the roles that substance abuse and addiction, mental illness, and youth play in nonviolent, first-time offenses.
AN ACT RELATING TO A TEN-YEAR PLAN TO DECREASE BOTH CRIME AND THE INCARCERATED POPULATION
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. CREATION OF THE “10–10–30 COMMITTEE” TO DEVELOP A
PLAN TO DECREASE THE VERMONT CRIME RATE AND THE
(a) The general assembly finds that:
(1) The number of Vermonters incarcerated in correctional facilities has doubled during the last decade.
(2) During fiscal year 2005, approximately 44 percent of incarcerated males and 76 percent of incarcerated females had been convicted solely of nonviolent offenses.
(3) Almost 7,000 Vermont offenders cycled through the correctional facilities during fiscal year 2005, including more than 2,000 who remained incarcerated at the end of the fiscal year.
(4) During fiscal year 2005, approximately 20,000 people were in corrections custody. This number represents roughly three percent of the entire Vermont population.
(5) Women currently represent 22 percent of the total corrections population in Vermont. This compares to a national average of 17 percent.
(6) A 1998 study of women incarcerated in Vermont reveals the following:
(A) More than 70 percent of the women had been domestically or physically abused as an adult.
(B) More than 45 percent of the women had attempted suicide at least once.
(C) Approximately 50 percent of the women were identified as having an “alcohol problem.”
(7) A 2003–2004 study of women incarcerated in Vermont reveals the following:
(A) Twenty percent of the women inmates were pregnant when they arrived at the correctional facility.
(B) Fifty-one percent of the women reported that they had a “problem” with alcohol and 49 percent reported a “problem” with drugs. Caseworkers, however, reported that 95 percent was a more accurate figure in both instances.
(C) Sixty percent of the women are on the mental health roster. In comparison, 25 percent of male inmates were on the roster at that time.
(8) A study of Vermont offenders during the three‑year period
1999–2002 reveals that:
(A) The rate of subsequent conviction was 42 percent greater for offenders who did not complete substance abuse programming prior to release than for those offenders who completed the programming.
(B) The rate of subsequent conviction was 47 percent greater for offenders who did not complete batterers intervention programming than for those offenders who completed the programming.
(9) A study of Vermont offenders during a three‑year period in the mid‑1990s reveals that the rate of reincarceration was 63 percent greater for offenders who did not participate in violent offender programming prior to release than for those offenders who graduated from the program prior to release.
(10) One in every five men in Vermont between the ages of 21 and 23 has been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to some form of supervision by the commissioner of corrections.
(11) During fiscal year 2005, men under the age of 25 comprised 31.6 percent of the total number of offenders sentenced to some form of supervision by the commissioner of corrections.
(12) The percentage of incarcerated Vermont offenders who are 50 years old and older trebled from three percent in 1977 to nine percent in 2005.
(13) In fiscal year 2005, incarcerated African‑Americans comprised nearly seven percent of all Vermont inmates while representing approximately 0.5 percent of Vermont’s entire population. In contrast, in 1991, African‑American inmates comprised only slightly more than two percent of the inmate population and approximately 0.3 percent of Vermont’s entire population.
(14) The department of corrections’ operational budget has more than doubled between fiscal year 2001 when it represented four percent of all state spending for noncapital purposes and fiscal year 2006 when it represented ten percent.
(b) There is created a committee to be known as the “10–10–30 committee” to develop a strategic plan by which the state, within the next ten years, will decrease:
(1) The rate of occurrence of one or more types or categories of crime by 10 percent; and
(2) The number of Vermont offenders confined to correctional facilities by 30 percent.
(c) In preparing the strategic plan required by this section, the 10–10–30 committee shall:
(1) Select one or more types or categories of crime which the strategic plan will be designed to decrease.
(2) Focus on alternatives to current sentencing practices for nonviolent, first‑time offenders with an emphasis on the roles that substance abuse and addiction, mental illness, and youth play in those offenses.
(d) On or before January 15, 2007, the 10–10–30 committee shall provide to the members of the joint legislative corrections oversight committee a strategic plan, including a timeline, by which the state, acting on its own or in conjunction with community partners, could achieve the results required by this section. The plan shall include a budget outlining the cost of initiating and operating any services, including potential nonstate funding sources, and a projection of the financial impact the proposal would have on future state capital and general fund appropriations.
(e) Members of the committee shall include three members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house and three members of the senate appointed by the committee on committees. 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 six 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.
(f) For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, 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
115 State Street