Close the Data Gaps in the Criminal Legal System
Vermont’s prisons have some of the worst racial disparities in the country, and yet our criminal legal system does not collect or report adequate data to identify the root causes. That means we do not have a clear picture of who is sent or returned to prison, why, and for how long. State’s attorneys, judges and corrections officials have significant discretion in making these decisions, and without better data it is difficult to hold them accountable.
Vermont’s ability to address systemic racism in our state is only as good as the information we have to identify how and where racial disparities show up throughout the system. But right now, when it comes to identifying racial disparities in our criminal legal system, it’s like we are trying to put together a puzzle with missing pieces – we simply cannot see the whole picture.
This lack of publicly available data prevents informed policymaking and masks racial and geographic disparities in Vermont's criminal legal system. If we are committed to addressing those disparities, Vermont’s decision-makers need a better and more consistent picture of the system as a whole.
In short, the legislature needs to require system-wide, consistent, comprehensive data collection that is easily accessible and reported by the Department of Corrections, courts, prosecutors, and police.
Join us in calling on the legislature to mandate and fund data reporting system-wide, and together, we can ensure all our communities are strong, equitable, and inclusive.
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