In a move to further reduce recidivism, on Monday, Jan. 7, Gov.
Peter Shumlin called for changes in the way courts handle drunk
driving cases, as well as the consolidation of the successful
Community High School of Vermont and Vermont Correctional
Industries programs under the umbrella of Corrections
These latest proposals build on previous work to reduce the
number of Vermont inmates who re-offend after their release and
return to prison, particularly among youthful offenders. According
to the Department of Corrections, the rate of young inmates in
Vermont's prison dropped from 2,074 in 2003 to 938 in June of 2012
(which was down from 1,079 the year before, and 1,306 in 2010).
The Governor announced that Robert Sand, Windsor County State's
Attorney, would join the Vermont Department of Public Safety to
help criminal justice professionals throughout the state develop
innovative and effective sentencing practices, including the
creation of DUI treatment dockets in Vermont. DUI treatment
dockets, similar to the drug court model, help impaired drivers
overcome their addiction through close judicial monitoring of their
treatment and the imposition of swift and certain sanctions and
rewards. DUI treatments dockets can increase substance abuse
recovery rates, lower recidivism rates, and save correctional and
Based on the experiences in other states that have developed
treatment courts, for every dollar spent to support these courts,
states save between $2 to $4 in other criminal justice expenditures
(source: The National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Sand, who has been a State's Attorney since 1997 and who worked
in the mid- 1990's as the Department of State's Attorney's DUI
Resource Attorney and legislative liaison, said, "Few areas of
criminal law provide as vexing a sentencing challenge as operating
under the influence of alcohol offenses. While Vermonters are
understandably alarmed at the rise in prescription opiate abuse,
alcohol addiction is a pressing criminal justice problem."
He said a small number of alcohol abusers repeatedly return to
court on new charges and pose an unacceptably high risk to the
public. But many of these offenders, once they achieve sobriety,
productively rejoin their communities.
"The criminal justice system has an opportunity, and an
obligation, to find effective ways to help these offenders address
their addiction," said Sand.
The Governor said Sand will work to spearhead efforts on behalf
of the Administration for the development of effective and
innovative evidence-based sentencing practices in DUI and other
cases, as well as develop trainings and educational programming for
criminal justice professionals and students at Vermont Law School.
Sand's position, which he will assume in March, is federally funded
for at least the first three years. He will work from an office at
the Vermont Law School in South Royalton.
"It's imperative that we keep drunk drivers off Vermont's roads,
but locking them in jail cells isn't always the best way to deal
with these complex cases," the Governor said. He said Windsor
County has been focusing on smarter ways to deal with DUI cases
that reduce the likelihood of re-offense and help treat addiction.
These efforts include the pre-trial services docket known as the
Sparrow Program and the newly developed DUI Treatment docket
in Windsor County.
"Bobby has been key to that work, and can now work with other
criminal justice professionals around the state that want to hold
these offenders accountable while also helping them overcome their
addiction," the Governor said.
Gov. Shumlin also noted that each year approximately 2,000
people access the services of the Community High School of Vermont
and Vermont Correctional Industries. On a yearly basis CHSVT
graduates approximately 125 students and issues 300 Industry
Certifications. Vermont Correctional Industries employs over
100 workers on a daily basis, which provides on the job training
and skill building, the Governor said.
The Corrections Education proposal, which will save the state
about $600,000, has two components. First, CHSVT will concentrate
its efforts in the correctional facilities, and redefine program
offerings for various populations - which can be dependent on type
of sentence and risk factors. CHSVT and VCI will redesign the
offerings and work experiences to meet the various needs of the
inmate populations. Correctional education efforts will
include work force development, independent living, and
post-secondary planning - all necessary for successful transition
from the facilities into the community.
"Education and jobs training are critical in helping
incarcerated Vermonters rebuild their lives after their release,"
Gov. Shumlin said.
"Because of the success of diversion programs over the past few
years such as the Rapid Intervention Community Court in Chittenden
County, the DOC is excited to retool the CHSVT to serve our current
population with this new model" said Commissioner Andrew Pallito.
"This new model will allow us to focus not only on educational
needs, but also the associated job skills to become employable upon