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S.156

AN ACT RELATING TO CORRECTIONS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

* * * Findings * * *

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Even if the general assembly takes no action to reduce prison overcrowding by releasing additional offenders, thousands of inmates leave Vermont correctional facilities and reenter the community every year.  For example, during FY04, approximately 600,000 individuals were released from prisons in the United States and 10,000,000 were released from jails.  During that same period, Vermont released 4,875 incarcerated individuals back into the community.

(2)  It is crucial that decisions of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches aggressively advance the mission of the department of corrections to work with and gain the support of community members to achieve the successful reintegration of offenders into the community.

(3)  Although the total incidents of reported crime in Vermont have declined steadily since the early 1990s, the overall level of serious crime has remained fairly constant.  Drug-related offenses have quintupled during the last five years. 

(4)  The number of women arrested in Vermont increased 59 percent in seven years, rising from 3,774 arrests in 1995 to 5,966 arrests in 2002.  The number of women incarcerated in Vermont has increased from 29 inmates in 1995 to more than 140 today, most of whom are incarcerated for nonviolent substance-abuse-related offenses.

(5)  One of 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. 

(6)  The rate at which Vermont incarcerated individuals convicted of crimes more than doubled in a ten-year period, rising from a daily average of 989 in FY95 to a daily average of 1,992 in FY04.  In one generation, the average number of individuals incarcerated on any one day rose from 559 (in FY85) to 1,992 (in FY04).

(7)  The cost of housing and supervising incarcerated individuals in Vermont more than doubled during the same period, increasing from $44 million in FY95 to $98 million in FY04.  The FY04 figure was more than 6‑1/2 times the cost of housing and supervising the incarcerated population in FY85, when that expense was $15 million.

(8)  The growth in available corrections beds has not kept pace with the growth of Vermont’s sentenced and detained population, and the state has been forced to transfer inmates to facilities outside Vermont.  Despite the addition of 350 corrections beds at the newly-opened Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, an average of 429 offenders was housed in an out‑of‑state correctional facility on any given day between July 1, 2004 and March 15, 2005.

(9)  The number of offenders released to the community under the supervision of the commissioner of corrections has doubled in the last ten years.  On a typical day in 2004, 12,372 Vermonters were living in the community under some form of supervision of the commissioner.  Of that number, 849 individuals were on conditional reentry status, 888 were on preapproved furlough, 795 had been released on parole, 73 had received a supervised community sentence, and 9,767 were on probation.

(10)  The number of offenders convicted of violent felonies (such as sexual assault, domestic assault, aggravated assault, and other felonies against persons) who are supervised in the community has increased by 33 percent during the last eight years, rising from 984 in FY96 to 1,317 in FY04. 

(11)  The number of correctional officers supervising offenders in the community has not kept pace with the growth in supervisees, increasing only 67 percent since 1993.

(12)  The number of individuals detained pending resolution of criminal charges increased by 300 percent between FY93 and FY03.  As of June 30, 2004, detainees represented 382 of the 2,033 individuals incarcerated in and out of state.  Pretrial detainees occupy 24 percent of the approximately 1,600 corrections beds available in state.

(13)  On a typical day in 2004, approximately 130 inmates who had served their minimum sentence and were otherwise eligible for release into the community remained incarcerated because of their inability to obtain suitable housing, resulting in an annual cost of at least $2,275,000 to house other offenders in out-of-state facilities.

(14)  In its report dated August 19, 2004, the governor’s commission on corrections overcrowding determined that the above trends, if continued, will:

(A)  Likely cause the state to increase its reliance on out-of-state prison beds or to build more correctional facilities within Vermont.

(B)  Result in unsustainable spending to provide adequate space for and supervision of offenders;

(C)  Compromise the state’s ability to provide humane and enlightened services and ensure safe and secure correctional facilities and communities.

(15)  The total capital costs of siting the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield were $34,600,000.00.

(16)  In its August 19, 2004 report, the governor’s commission on corrections overcrowding also determined that the overcrowded conditions in state correctional facilities and the increased use of the facilities for pretrial detainees have:

(A)  Compromised the department’s statutory mission.

(B)  Increased personal danger to inmates and staff.

(C)  Caused unacceptable hardship for offenders and families of offenders who are in out-of-state institutions.

(D)  Resulted in excessive and out-of-control cost at the expense of other worthy governmental efforts.

(E)  Disrupted the reasonable and well-designed program of treatment by the thoughtful integration of offenders into the community upon completion of their sentences.

(F)  Resulted in unhealthy and unwholesome practices in the correctional facilities.

(G)  Damaged staff morale.

(H)  Contributed to the death of inmates.

(I)  Resulted in public dissatisfaction and decreased credibility for the department of corrections and the entire criminal justice system.

(J)  Prohibited a range of palliative programs from being applied efficiently or effectively, which results in the loss of important opportunities to assist inmates to achieve necessary personal change and which, in turn, adds to the already remarkable cost of the corrections system.

(17)  In its report dated August 19, 2004, the governor’s commission on corrections overcrowding recommended a range of solutions to reduce overcrowding, including the provision of grants to communities and private organizations to help establish supervised transitional housing and the creation of alternatives to incarceration for many of the state’s female offenders.

(18)  It is equally imperative both that the three regional facilities be used for their intended function as reintegration facilities for offenders preparing for imminent reentry into the community and that prisoners housed in out-of-state facilities be brought home to Vermont.

(19)  In its August 19, 2004 report, the governor’s commission on corrections overcrowding cogently stated:  “The problem [in corrections] has grown over two decades and has greatly accelerated in the last 4 years.  The problem is now to the point where solutions required must be bold in order to have a noticeable impact.  Marginal and incremental changes are welcome and will over time help, but they must be anchored by actions that are significant enough that change is real and substantial.”

* * * Good Time * * *

Sec. 2.  REDUCTIONS OF TERM

(a)  Retrospective award.  Each individual in the custody of the commissioner of corrections who is serving a term of incarceration on July 1, 2005 shall be awarded all reductions in the minimum and maximum terms to which that inmate is entitled as of the end of the day on June 30, 2005, consistent with those provisions of 28 V.S.A. § 811 that were in force when the inmate’s crime was committed.

(b)  Prospective award.  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, each individual in the custody of the commissioner of corrections who is serving a term of incarceration for a crime committed on or before June 30, 2005, shall, for purposes of calculating reductions in that inmate’s term of confinement subsequent to June 30, 2005, prospectively be awarded, in total, all reductions in the minimum and maximum terms of confinement to which that inmate would potentially be entitled in the future under the system that was in place at the time his or her crime was committed; provided that this subsection shall not apply to reductions pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 811(d) (work camps) as that subsection appears before July 1, 2005, which shall be awarded at the time the reductions are earned under the system that was in place at the time the crime was committed. 

(c)  The department shall apply the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section as appropriate to persons ultimately convicted of a crime committed before July 1, 2005 at the time of sentencing.

(d)  Pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 5305, the department shall notify victims of the impact this section has on the minimum and maximum terms of incarceration for all pertinent inmates.  The department shall also provide notice to each inmate regarding the impact this section has on that inmate’s minimum and maximum terms of incarceration.

Sec. 3.  REPEAL

28 V.S.A. § 811 (reduction in term for good behavior) is repealed.

Sec. 4.  28 V.S.A. § 811 is added to read:

§ 811.  WORK CAMPS; REDUCTION OF TERM

A reduction of up to 30 days in the minimum and maximum terms of confinement may be made in accordance with a policy established by the director of a work camp in which an inmate is confined for each month during which the inmate demonstrates, beyond the level normally expected, consistent program performance or meritorious work performance.

Sec. 5.  WORK CAMP; GOOD TIME

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, for each inmate serving a term of incarceration in a work camp on or after July 1, 2005 who has been convicted of a crime committed between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2005, a reduction of up to 30 days in the minimum term of confinement and up to 15 days in the maximum term of confinement may be made in accordance with a policy established by the director of the work camp in which the inmate is confined for each month during which the inmate demonstrates, beyond the level normally expected, consistent high program performance or meritorious work performance.

(b)  Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to any inmate who receives a prospective award, in total, of all reductions to which that inmate would potentially be entitled in the future pursuant to Sec. 2(b) of this act, who is subsequently transferred to a work camp.

* * * Furlough * * *

Sec. 6.  28 V.S.A. § 808 is amended to read:

§ 808.  FURLOUGHS GRANTED TO OFFENDERS AND INMATES; MEDICAL FURLOUGH

(a)  The department may extend the limits of the place of confinement of an inmate at any correctional facility if the inmate agrees to comply with such conditions of supervision the department, in its sole discretion, deems appropriate for that inmate’s furlough.  The department may authorize furlough for any of the following reasons:

* * *

(7)  When recommended by the department and ordered by a court.  The inmate may be sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment but placed by a court on furlough to participate in such programs administered by the department in the community that reduce the offender’s risk to reoffend or that provide reparation to the community in the form of supervised work activities; or

(8)  To prepare for reentry into the community.

(A)  Any offender sentenced to incarceration may be furloughed to the community up to 90 days prior to completion of the minimum sentence, at the commissioner’s discretion and in accordance with rules adopted pursuant to subdivision (C) of this subdivision (8), provided that an offender sentenced to a minimum term of fewer than 180 days shall not be eligible for furlough under this subdivision until the offender has served at least one-half of his or her minimum term of incarceration.

(B)  Except as provided in subdivision (D) of this subdivision (8), any offender sentenced to incarceration is eligible to earn five days toward reintegration furlough, to be applied prior to the expiration of the offender’s minimum term, for each month served in the correctional facility during which the inmate has complied with the case plan prepared pursuant to subsection 1(b) of this title and has obeyed all rules and regulations of the facility.  Days shall be awarded only if the commissioner determines, in his or her sole discretion, that they have been earned in accordance with rules adopted by the department pursuant to subdivision (C) of this subdivision (8) and shall in no event be awarded automatically.  The commissioner’s determination shall be final.  Days earned under this subdivision may be awarded in addition to the reintegration furlough authorized in subdivision (A) of this subdivision (8).  The commissioner shall have the discretion to determine the frequency with which calculations under this subdivision shall be made provided they are made at least as frequently as every six months.

(C)  The commissioner may authorize reintegration furlough under subdivisions (A) and (B) of this subdivision (8) only if the days are awarded in accordance with rules adopted pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3 designed to:

(i)  Evaluate factors such as risk of reoffense, history of violent behavior, history of compliance with community supervision, compliance with the case plan, progress in treatment programs designed to reduce criminal risk, and obedience to rules and regulations of the facility.

(ii)  Ensure adequate departmental supervision of the offender when furloughed into the community.

(D)  The commissioner may not award days toward reintegration furlough under subdivision (B) of this subdivision (8) if the offender is sentenced to a minimum term of incarceration in excess of five years or is incarcerated for a conviction of one or more of the following crimes:

(i)  Arson causing death as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 501;

(ii)  Assault and robbery with a dangerous weapon as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 608(b);

(iii)  Assault and robbery causing bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 608(c);

(iv)  Aggravated assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1024;

(v)  Murder as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2301;

(vi)  Manslaughter as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2304;

(vii)  Kidnapping as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2405;

(viii)  Unlawful restraint as defined in 13 V.S.A. §§ 2406 and 2407;

(ix)  Maiming as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2701;

(x)  Sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252(a)(1) or (2);

(xi)  Aggravated sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3253;

(xii)  Burglary into an occupied dwelling as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1201(c); or

(xiii)  Lewd or lascivious conduct with a child as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2602.

* * *

(e)  The commissioner may enter into and execute a contract with authorities in other states for the furlough of any inmate from any facility to another state when, in his opinion, the inmate needs special treatment in the other state or for a particular reason consistent with the rehabilitation of the inmate.  [Deleted.]

* * *

(g)  Treatment furlough.  The department may place on furlough an inmate who has not yet served the minimum term of the sentence, provided the approval of the sentencing judge is first obtained, who, in the department’s determination, needs residential treatment services not available in a correctional facility.  The services may include treatment for substance abuse or personal violence or any other condition that the department has determined should be addressed in order to reduce the inmate’s risk to reoffend or cause harm to himself or herself or to others in the facility.  The inmate shall be released only to a hospital or licensed inpatient residential treatment facility that provides services to the general population.  The state’s share of the cost of placement in such a facility, net of any private or federal participation, shall be paid pursuant to memoranda of agreement between and within state agencies reflective of their shared responsibilities to maximize the efficient and effective use of state resources.  In the event that a memorandum of agreement cannot be reached, the secretary of administration shall make a final determination as to the manner in which costs will be allocated.

Sec. 7.  EFFECT OF REINTEGRATION FURLOUGH

It is the intent of the general assembly that granting the commissioner of corrections the ability to authorize reintegration furlough in Sec. 6 of this act shall have the effect of reducing the total number of Vermont offenders housed in out-of-state correctional facilities.

* * * Graduated Sanctions * * *

Sec. 8.  28 V.S.A. § 304 is amended to read:

§ 304.  DISPOSITION ALTERNATIVES UPON VIOLATION OF

            PROBATION

(a)  If a violation is established by a proceeding conducted in accordance with section 302 of this title, the court may, in its discretion, revoke probation and require the probationer to serve the sentence which was suspended or order that the sentence be served in the community pursuant to the provisions of chapter 6 of this title.

(b)  As an alternative to revocation and imposition of sentence as provided in subsection (a) of this section, the court, in its discretion, after a violation has been established, may:

(1)  Continue the probationer on the existing sentence; or

(2)  Effect, in accordance with subsection 253(b) of this title, necessary or desirable changes or enlargements in the conditions of probation; or

(3)  Conduct a formal or informal conference with the probationer in order to reemphasize to him or her the necessity of compliance with the conditions of probation; or

(4)  Issue a formal or informal warning to the probationer that further violations may result in revocation of probation by the court.; or

(5)  Continue the probationer on the existing sentence, but require the probationer to serve any portion of the sentence.

(c)  Prior to ordering either revocation or an alternative sanction for a violation of probation in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the court shall consider, but has complete discretion whether to follow, sanction guidelines established by the department of corrections pursuant to subsection (e) of this section.

(d)  No plea agreement shall limit the court’s discretion under this section.

(e)  The department of corrections shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3 that establish graduated sanction guidelines for probation violations as an alternative to revocation and imposition of the original sentence.  These guidelines do not grant the department any authority to impose sanctions for probation violations.

* * * Deferred Sentences * * *

Sec. 9.  13 V.S.A. § 7041 is amended to read:

§ 7041.  DEFERRED SENTENCE

(a)  Upon an adjudication of guilt and after the filing of a presentence investigation report, the court may defer sentencing and place the respondent on probation upon such terms and conditions as it may require if a written agreement concerning the deferring of sentence is entered into between the state’s attorney and the respondent and filed with the clerk of the court. 

(b)  Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, the court may defer sentencing and place the respondent on probation without a written agreement between the state’s attorney and the respondent if the following conditions are met:

(1)  the respondent is 28 years old or younger;

(2)  the crime for which the respondent is being sentenced is not a listed crime as defined in subdivision 5301(7) of this title;

(3)  the court orders a presentence investigation in accordance with the procedures set forth in Rule 32 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure, unless the state’s attorney agrees to waive the presentence investigation;

(4)  the court permits the victim to submit a written or oral statement concerning the consideration of deferment of sentence;

(5)  the court reviews the presentence investigation and the victim’s impact statement with the parties; and 

(6)  the court determines that deferring sentence is in the interest of justice.

(c)  Entry of deferment of sentence shall constitute an appealable judgment for purposes of appeal in accordance with sections 2381-2390 section 2383 of Title 12 and Rule 3 of the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure.  Except as otherwise provided, entry of deferment of sentence shall constitute imposition of sentence solely for the purpose of sentence review in accordance with section 7042 of this titleThereafter the court may impose sentence at any time within five years from and after the date of entry of deferment  The court may impose sentence at any time if the respondent violates the conditions of the deferred sentence during the period of deferment.

(b)(d)  Upon violation of the terms of probation or of the deferred sentence agreement, the court shall impose sentence.  Upon fulfillment of the terms of probation and of the deferred sentence agreement, the court shall strike the adjudication of guilt and discharge the respondent.  Upon discharge, the record of the criminal proceedings shall be expunged as if an application pursuant to section 5538 of Title 33 had been granted, except that the record shall not be expunged until restitution has been paid in full, absent a finding of good cause by the court.

(c)(e)  A deferred sentence imposed under subsection (a) or (b) of this section may include a restitution order issued pursuant to section 7043 of this title.  Nonpayment of restitution shall not constitute grounds for imposition of the underlying sentence.

* * * Conditions of Release * * *

Sec. 10.  13 V.S.A. § 7554(a) is amended to read:

§ 7554.  RELEASE PRIOR TO TRIAL

(a)  Any person charged with an offense, other than a person held without bail under section 7553 or 7553a of this title, shall at his or her appearance before a judicial officer be ordered released pending trial in accordance with this section.

(1)  The person shall be ordered released on personal recognizance or upon the execution of an unsecured appearance bond in an amount specified by the judicial officer unless the judicial officer determines that such a release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required.  In determining whether the person presents a risk of nonappearance, the judicial officer shall consider, in addition to any other factors, the seriousness of the offense charged and the number of offenses with which the person is charged.  If the officer determines that such a release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required, the officer shall, either in lieu of or in addition to the above methods of release, impose the least restrictive of the following conditions or the least restrictive combination of the following conditions which will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required:

(A)  Place the person in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise him or her.

(B)  Place restrictions on the travel, association or place of abode of the person during the period of release.

(C)  Require the person to participate in an alcohol or drug treatment program.  The judicial officer shall take into consideration the defendant’s ability to comply with an order of treatment and the availability of treatment resources.

(D)  Require the execution of a secured appearance bond in a specified amount and the deposit with the clerk of the court, in cash or other security as directed, of a sum not to exceed ten percent of the amount of the bond, such deposit to be returned upon the appearance of the person as required.

(D)(E)  Require the execution of a surety bond with sufficient solvent sureties, or the deposit of cash in lieu thereof.

(E)(F)  Require the deposit with the clerk of court of cash bail in a specified amount.

(F)(G)  Impose any other condition found reasonably necessary to assure appearance as required, including a condition requiring that the person return to custody after specified hours.

(2)  If the judicial officer determines that conditions of release imposed to assure appearance will not reasonably protect the public, the judicial officer may in addition impose the least restrictive of the following conditions or the least restrictive combination of the following conditions which will reasonably assure protection of the public:

(A)  Place the person in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise him or her.

(B)  Place restrictions on the travel, association, or place of abode of the person during the period of release.

(C)  Require the person to participate in an alcohol or drug treatment program.  The judicial officer shall take into consideration the defendant’s ability to comply with an order of treatment and the availability of treatment resources.

(D)  Impose any other condition found reasonably necessary to protect the public, except that a physically restrictive condition may only be imposed in extraordinary circumstances.

(3)  A judicial officer may order that a defendant not harass or cause to be harassed a victim or potential witness.  This order shall take effect immediately, regardless of whether the defendant is incarcerated or released.

* * *

* * * Parole Board * * *

Sec. 11.  28 V.S.A. § 451 is amended to read:

§ 451.  CREATION OF BOARD

(a)  A parole board of five members is created.  The governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, shall appoint five regular members and two alternates for terms of three years in such a manner that no more than three terms shall expire annually.  Initial terms may be less than three years.  Each member and alternate shall hold office until a successor is appointed and qualified.  The governor shall designate the board’s chair.  As far as practicable, the governor shall appoint as members persons who have knowledge of and experience in correctional treatment, crime prevention or human relations, and shall give consideration, as far as practicable, to geographic representation of the state.  The board shall select one of its members to serve as vice chair of the board.  If the chair resigns or is otherwise permanently unable to serve on the board, the vice chair shall serve as interim chair until the governor designates a new chair pursuant to this section.  The chair or the executive director may assign alternates to serve on the board in the absence of a regular member and such alternates shall have all the powers and authority of a regular member when so assigned.

(b)  Three members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of a meeting.  Notwithstanding section 172 of Title 1, the concurrence of a majority of members present at a parole board meeting shall be necessary and sufficient for board action.

(c)  The chair of the parole board shall be entitled to compensation in the amount of $13,000.00 $20,500.00 annually, effective on the first pay period in fiscal year 2006, which shall be in lieu of any per diem otherwise authorized by law.  If the vice chair assumes the duties of the chair for a period in excess of 30 consecutive days, the compensation otherwise payable to the chair during his or her absence shall be paid to the vice chair.

Sec. 12.  32 V.S.A. § 1010(f) is amended to read:

(f)  Members of the parole board shall receive $80.00 $100.00 per diem for each day of official duties together with reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

* * * Director of Parole Board * * *

Sec. 13.  PAROLE BOARD EXECUTIVE OFFICER; REDESIGNATION OF

               POSITION

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the General Assembly authorizes and directs the redesignation, effective July 1, 2005, of the following classified position as an exempt position:  one (1) Parole Board Executive Officer, which shall be known after redesignation as the Parole Board Director.

Sec. 14.  28 V.S.A. § 455 is added to read:

§ 455.  DIRECTOR

(a)  The position of parole board director is created.  The director shall be appointed by the governor after consultation with the board. 

(b)  The director shall serve for a term of four years commencing on March 1 and continuing until his or her successor is appointed.

(c)  The director shall be exempt from classified state service.

(d)  The secretary of human services, in consultation with the parole board and the department of human resources, shall establish the minimum and preferred qualifications, duties, and compensation of the director.

* * * Parole Board; Recommendations; Reports * * *

Sec. 15.  PAROLE BOARD; RECOMMENDED ACTIONS; REPORTS

(a)  The secretary of human services, in consultation with the chair of the parole board, shall:

(1)  Revise the interim parole board manual dated November 1, 1997 to provide the parole board, its staff, and the department of corrections with necessary guidance to perform parole-related duties. 

(2)  Develop guidelines to assist the board to make consistent, empirically based decisions.

(3)  Develop training and orientation for parole board members and staff concerning board policies and procedures.

(4)  Ensure that all parole board members and staff engage in training programs conducted by entities such as the Association of Paroling Authorities, International (APAI) and the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA).

(b)  On or before January 15, 2006, the secretary of human services shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary and institutions and the joint legislative corrections oversight committee concerning implementation of this section.

(c)  The chair of the parole board shall review and evaluate the size and structure of the board and consider whether an increased membership or an alternative structure, or both, would enhance the board’s effectiveness.  On or before January 15, 2006, the chair shall report the results of this evaluation to the house and senate committees on institutions and judiciary together with any proposals for legislative amendments.

* * * Transitional Housing * * *

Sec. 16.  TRANSITIONAL HOUSING; PROPOSAL; STUDY COMMITTEE

(a)  It is imperative that the department of corrections engage in collaborative or strategic planning to identify specific housing needs by region and type, and the associated needs of offenders returning to the community.  The department’s current practice of “buying beds” in the community does not adequately address the challenges, costs, and impacts of developing and operating successful transitional housing.  It is the intent of the general assembly that the department develop and sustain new models of supportive, transitional housing.

(b)  On or before September 1, 2005, the department shall identify, through a statewide public process, at least one community interested in being active in a study committee designed to develop a proposal to provide transitional housing to assist offenders achieve successful reintegration into the community following a term of incarceration.  Upon identifying an interested community, the department shall call an initial meeting of the study committee to include the following members: 

(1)  The commissioner of corrections or the commissioner’s designee.

(2)  The superintendent of the office of probation and parole serving the pertinent community or the superintendent’s designee.

(3)  A representative of the law enforcement entity that serves the pertinent community.

(4)  A representative of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to be selected by the league’s governing board.

(5)  A representative of the pertinent community’s governing body.

(6)  A representative of a local planning commission or if none exists, then a representative of the regional planning commission serving the pertinent community.

(7)  The state’s attorney serving the pertinent community or the state’s attorney’s designee.

(8)  A representative of the office of the public defender serving the pertinent community.

(9)  The director of a community justice center, if one exists, or the director’s designee.

(10)  The executive director of the Vermont center for crime victim services or the executive director’s designee.

(11)  The field director of the district office of the agency of human services serving the pertinent community or the field director’s designee.

(12)  The executive director of the Vermont housing and conservation board or the executive director’s designee.

(13)  A representative of a local community land trust, if one exists.

(14)  A representative of a local housing authority, if one exists.

(15)  A representative of one or more neighborhood associations, if one exists.

(16)  A representative from the department of employment and training to be selected by the commissioner of the department.

(17)  Representatives of such other entity or entities as the members of the committee deem appropriate.

(c)  The study committee may seek information or advice from such other individuals, including former inmates who have successfully reintegrated into the community, or entities as it deems appropriate.

(d)  On or before January 15, 2006, the study committee shall provide to the house and senate committees on appropriations, judiciary, and institutions, the house committee on human services, and the senate committee on health and welfare a detailed proposal by which the state, acting on its own or in conjunction with community partners, could develop and operate community‑based structured transitional housing for offenders, which proposal shall include:

(1)  An outline of the administrative and operational structure of the facility, including community partnerships, plans to ensure adequate staffing, the criteria under which offenders would be released into and from the transitional housing facility, and the programs and services, which shall include employment and permanent housing assistance and prescription drug continuity, to be offered or the means by which programs and services would be accessed.

(2)  A budget detailing the cost of initiating and operating the housing, including potential nonstate funding sources and a projection of the financial impact the proposal would have on future state capital and general fund appropriations.

(3)  A plan for educating and engaging the support of the community for transitional housing.

(4)  A plan for notifying victims and responding to their concerns.

(5)  A timeline for the creation and start-up of the transitional housing.

(e)  At its initial meeting, the study committee shall select a member to serve as chair.  The department of corrections shall provide administrative support to the committee. 

* * * Departmental Mission; Reintegration Plan * * *

Sec. 17.  28 V.S.A. § 1(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department shall formulate its programs and policies recognizing that almost all criminal offenders ultimately return to the community, and that the traditional institutional prisons fail to reform or rehabilitate, operating instead to increase the risk of continued criminal acts following release.  The department shall strive to develop and implement a comprehensive program which will provide necessary closed custodial confinement of frequent, dangerous offenders, but which also will establish as its primary objective the disciplined preparation of offenders for their responsible roles in the open community.  The department shall ensure that the comprehensive program required by this subsection includes a process by which each offender sentenced to any term of imprisonment other than for life without parole, within 30 days after receiving his or her sentence, shall begin to develop and implement a plan preparing for return to the community.

* * * Corrections Oversight Committee * * *

Sec. 18.  REPEAL

Secs. 170d and 170e of No. 142 of the Acts of the 2001 Adj. Sess. (2002) (joint legislative corrections oversight committee) are repealed.

Sec. 19.  2 V.S.A. chapter 22 is added to read:

Chapter 22.  Joint Legislative Corrections

Oversight Committee

§ 801.  CREATION OF COMMITTEE

(a)  There is created a joint legislative corrections oversight committee whose membership shall be appointed each biennial session of the general assembly.  The committee shall exercise oversight over the department of corrections and work with and provide assistance to other legislative committees on matters related to corrections policies.

(b)  The committee shall be composed of eight members:  four members of the house of representatives, who shall not all be from the same party, appointed by the speaker of the house; and four members of the senate, who shall not all be from the same party, appointed by the committee on committees.  In addition to one member-at-large appointed from each chamber, one appointment shall be made from each of the following house and senate committees:  appropriations, judiciary, and institutions.

(c)  The committee shall elect a chair, vice chair, and clerk from among its members and shall adopt rules of procedure.  The chairmanship shall rotate biennially between the house and the senate members.  The committee shall keep minutes of its meetings and maintain a file thereof.  A quorum shall consist of five members.

(d)  When the general assembly is in session, the committee shall meet at the call of the chair.  The committee may meet four times during adjournment, and may meet more often subject to approval of the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate.

(e)  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 of expenses as provided under subsection 406(a) of this title.

(f)  The professional and clerical services of the joint fiscal office and the legislative council shall be available to the committee.

§ 802.  DUTIES

(a)  In addition to the general responsibilities set forth in subsection 801(a) of this title, the committee shall:

(1)  Review and make recommendations regarding the department of corrections’ strategic, operating, and capital plans.

(2)  Review and make recommendations to the house and senate committees on appropriations regarding departmental budget proposals.

(3)  Provide general oversight on departmental policy development.

(4)  Encourage improved communication between the department and other relevant components of the administrative branch and the criminal justice system.

(b)  At least annually, the committee shall report its activities, together with recommendations, if any, to the general assembly.

Sec. 20.  INCENTIVES; REPORT

The department of corrections and the joint legislative corrections oversight committee shall jointly review and evaluate potential incentive programs and management strategies for use within the state’s correctional facilities to encourage and reinforce good behavior, reduce high-risk behaviors, and encourage participation in programming.  The department shall review strategies used in other jurisdictions and recommend to the committee those strategies it finds to be most suitable for use in Vermont

* * * Specialized Programming within Correctional Facilities * * *

Sec. 21.  SPECIALIZED SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND DOMESTIC

               VIOLENCE PROGRAMMING 

(a)  In order to provide essential programming to inmates to assist with successful reintegration into the community, the department of corrections shall prepare a detailed proposal to provide specialized substance abuse and domestic violence programming to targeted offenders housed in correctional facilities, which may include out-of-state facilities. 

(b)  The proposal required by this section shall include:

(1)  Details of the populations to be served, the levels of programming to be offered, and the locations in which the programs will occur.

(2)  A detailed time line regarding implementation of the proposed programming.

(3)  Provisions to ensure that programming is available to each eligible offender housed within a correctional facility regardless of whether it is possible that the offender will be released from that facility or transferred to a different correctional facility prior to completion of the programming. 

(4)  Provisions to ensure that if an offender is released from a correctional facility or transferred to a different facility prior to completion of specialized substance abuse programming, or specialized domestic violence programming, or both, the commissioner shall ensure that the offender is able to continue programming in the community into which the offender is released or in the facility to which the offender is transferred.

(5)  Provisions to ensure initial and continuing education and certification of department employees necessary to offer the proposed programming. 

(6)  Provisions to ensure that the services of contract providers are used in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

(7)  A detailed itemization of capital and general fund costs associated with the proposed programming.

(8)  A detailed evaluation of whether the proposal may have the effect of increasing the total inmate population and suggestions for ways in which this result might be avoided.  The department shall work with the offices of the defender general, the state’s attorneys, and the court administrator to conduct the evaluation and develop the suggestions required by this subdivision.

(c)  The department shall present the detailed proposal to the joint legislative corrections oversight committee on or before November 1, 2005

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

Sec. 22.  DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; RULEMAKING

Pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3, the department of corrections shall adopt rules to ensure that the number of trained correctional field staff be sufficient and, if necessary, increased prior to the release of inmates into the community, and that offenders be released at a rate that permits adequate supervision, both to ensure community safety and to support successful reintegration of each offender.  The commissioner of corrections shall report to the house and senate committees on appropriations, institutions, and the judiciary on or before January 15, 2006 regarding implementation of the rule or rules and shall, at that time, also present a draft of any proposed related legislation for the committees’ consideration.

* * * Global Positioning System * * *

Sec. 23.  GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM MONITORING

(a)  The department of corrections is authorized to implement a pilot program using a global positioning system (“GPS”) or other similar technology within the community pursuant to the terms of the plan submitted by the department to the house committees on appropriations and institutions in January 2005 (the “pilot program”); provided that the pilot program may only involve:

(1)  20 offenders at any one time.

(2)  Offenders convicted of D.U.I. pursuant to Title 23 and nonviolent offenders who might otherwise be incarcerated for violating the conditions of their release. 

(b)  On or before January 15, 2006, the commissioner of corrections shall report to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on judiciary regarding the department’s progress in implementing the pilot program.

* * * Indefinite Probation * * *

Sec. 24.  PROBATION; LENGTH OF TERM

(a)  On or before January 1, 2006, the department of corrections shall:

(1)  Identify each offender (the “misdemeanant”), sentenced prior to July 1, 2004, who is serving an indefinite term of probation solely in connection with one or more misdemeanors;

(2)  Categorize the misdemeanants into three groups by date of sentencing such that, for purposes of this section, the one-third with the earliest dates of sentencing shall be identified as Group A, the one-third with intermediate dates shall be Group B, and the one-third with the most recent dates shall be Group C;

(3)  Provide the three categorized lists of misdemeanants to the executive director of the office of state’s attorneys and to the Vermont center for crime victim services, restitution unit. 

(b)  On or before July 1, 2006, the probation officers for misdemeanants in Group A shall review the case file for these misdemeanants and:

(1)  Shall file a petition with the sentencing court requesting discharge from probation for each misdemeanant in Group A for whom the department believes that termination is warranted by the conduct of the misdemeanant and the ends of justice; provided that a petition shall not be filed under this subdivision for any misdemeanant who has not completed programming consistent with his or her special conditions of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney who may object and request a hearing on the petition.

(2)  For each misdemeanant in Group A not included within subdivision (1) of this subsection, shall file a petition with the court requesting the court to extend the period of probation for a term not to exceed two years unless the court, in its sole discretion, specifically finds after a hearing that the interests of justice require a longer or an indefinite period of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney.

(c)  On or before January 1, 2007, the probation officers for misdemeanants in Group B shall review the case file for these misdemeanants and:

(1)  Shall file a petition with the sentencing court requesting discharge from probation for each misdemeanant in Group B for whom the department believes that termination is warranted by the conduct of the misdemeanant and the ends of justice; provided that a petition shall not be filed under this subdivision for any misdemeanant who has not completed programming consistent with his or her special conditions of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney who may object and request a hearing on the petition.

(2)  For each misdemeanant in Group B not included within subdivision (1) of this subsection, shall file a petition with the court requesting the court to extend the period of probation for a term not to exceed two years unless the court, in its sole discretion, specifically finds after a hearing that the interests of justice require a longer or an indefinite period of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney.

(d)  On or before July 1, 2007, the probation officers for misdemeanants in Group C shall review the case file for these misdemeanants and:

(1)  Shall file a petition with the sentencing court requesting discharge from probation for each misdemeanant in Group C for whom the department believes that termination is warranted by the conduct of the misdemeanant and the ends of justice; provided that a petition shall not be filed under this subdivision for any misdemeanant who has not completed programming consistent with his or her special conditions of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney who may object and request a hearing on the petition.

(2)  For each misdemeanant in Group C not included within subdivision (1) of this subsection, shall file a petition with the court requesting the court to extend the period of probation for a term not to exceed two years unless the court, in its sole discretion, specifically finds after a hearing that the interests of justice require a longer or an indefinite period of probation.  Simultaneous with filing, notice of the petition shall be given to the state’s attorney.

(e)  Each victim who has requested timely notification from the department pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 5305 shall receive notice of a petition filed under this section in connection with that victim’s case.

(f)  The department shall provide timely notification of each petition filed under this section to the Vermont center for crime victim services, restitution unit.

* * * Assault with Bodily Fluids * * *

Sec. 25.  13 V.S.A. § 1028a is amended to read:

§ 1028a.  ASSAULT OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; ASSAULT WITH

                BODILY FLUIDS

* * *

(b)  No person shall intentionally cause blood, vomitus, excrement, mucus, saliva, semen, or urine to come in contact with:

(1)  Any person lawfully present in a correctional facility unless the person’s presence within the facility requires the contact; or

(2)  An employee of a correctional facility acting in the scope of employment unless the employee’s scope of employment requires the contact. 

(c)  A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(d)  A sentence imposed for a conviction of this section shall be served consecutively with and not concurrently with any other sentence.

* * * Use of Savings * * *

Sec. 26.  REDUCTION IN INCARCERATED POPULATION; USE OF

              SAVINGS 

(a)  It is the intent of the general assembly that the provisions of this act will result in an eventual decrease in the total incarcerated population, and that offenders housed in out-of-state correctional facilities will be brought home to Vermont.  It is also the intent of the general assembly that savings realized in any given fiscal year from the reduction in the incarcerated population will be dedicated to improving correctional services, including the provision of:

(1)  Adequate support, programming, and supervision for offenders within the community, including a sufficient number of trained correctional field staff as required by Sec. 22 of this act; and

(2)  Adequate programming and an adequate number and ratio of trained correctional officers within the correctional facilities. 

(b)  On or before August 15, 2005, and on or before the 15th day of each of the subsequent 11 months, the department of corrections shall provide a report to the joint legislative corrections oversight committee detailing the following:

(1)  The number of offenders housed in out-of-state correctional facilities during the previous month.

(2)  The actual expense of housing offenders in out-of-state correctional facilities for the previous month.

(3)  A breakdown of how any excess allocation, which shall be calculated as the difference between the actual monthly expense and the budgeted monthly expense, shall be spent by the department pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. 

(4)  The number of offenders released under reintegration furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8) during the previous month.

(5)  Other information that the joint legislative corrections oversight committee may request.

(c)  On July 1, 2006 and July 1, 2007, the department of corrections shall provide to the joint legislative corrections oversight committee a detailed report that comprehensively analyzes the net increase or decrease in both financial expenditures and staff time resulting from the amendments contained in this act, including the manner in which savings in expenditures and time were redirected, which report shall specifically include:

(1)  The net gain in staff time resulting from the retrospective and prospective award of good time in Sec. 2 of this act and the repeal of 28 V.S.A. § 811 in Sec. 3 of this act and the purposes to which this gained time has been redirected.

(2)  The net change in financial expenditures and in staff time resulting from:

(A)  The creation of reintegration furlough in Sec. 6 of this act.

(B)  Amendments relating to graduated sanctions for violations of probation in Sec. 8 of this act.

(C)  Amendments relating to deferred sentences in Sec. 9 of this act.

(D)  Provisions requiring a reduction in the number of misdemeanants on indefinite probation in Sec. 24 of this act.

(3)  The purposes to which all savings in financial expenditures and in staff time identified pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection have been or will be redirected.

* * * Sexual Exploitation of Offenders * * *

Sec. 27.  SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF OFFENDERS; WORKING GROUP

(a)  The following individuals shall form a working group to develop proposed legislation prohibiting the sexual exploitation of individuals within the Vermont correctional system:

(1)  The commissioner of corrections or the commissioner’s designee.

(2)  The director of the Vermont state employees’ association or the director’s designee.

(3)  The director of the prisoners’ rights office of the office of the defender general or the director’s designee.

(4)  The executive director of the office of state’s attorneys or the executive director’s designee.

(5)  The director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence or the director’s designee.

(6)  The executive director of the Vermont commission on women or the executive director’s designee.

(7)  The executive director of the Center for Crime Victim Services, or the executive director’s designee.

(b)  On or before September 15, 2005, the working group shall present to the joint legislative corrections oversight committee (“COC”) a draft of proposed legislation, supported by all members of the working group, prohibiting the sexual exploitation of any individual who is in the custody of or confined by the department of corrections or who is being supervised by the department of corrections.  The legislative council shall assist the working group to prepare the draft.  The working group shall select one or more representatives who shall provide verbal status reports at each of the COC’s meetings held prior to September 15, 2005. 

(c)  The COC shall review the draft proposed by the working group during any committee meetings held on and after September 15, 2005 and shall consider introducing the proposal, with or without amendments, as a bill during the 2006 legislative session.  If the working group is unable to reach agreement on draft legislation as required by subsection (b) of this section, the COC shall prepare a draft bill addressing the issue for introduction during the 2006 legislative session.

* * * Effective Date * * *

Sec. 28.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2005; provided:

(1)  Offenders convicted of a listed felony shall not be eligible for reintegration furlough under Sec. 6, 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8)(A), until completion of the rulemaking process required for that subdivision, which shall be no later than November 1, 2005.

(2)  Offenders shall not be eligible to earn days toward reintegration furlough under Sec. 6, 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8)(B), until completion of the rulemaking process required for that subdivision, which shall be no later than November 1, 2005.

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us