Dubie, Shumlin Spar Over Corrections Plan

09/20/10 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP File Photo/Toby Talbot

(Host) A disagreement over plans to reform the Corrections Department has become a key issue in the Governor's race.

Democrat Peter Shumlin says he wants to reduce costs by strengthening community based programs for non violent offenders.

Republican Brian Dubie says the plan will put drug dealers out on the street - a charge that Shumlin denies.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Shumlin says his plan is quite simple. If you beef up spending on community based programs for non violent offenders, you'll significantly reduce the chances of that person re-offending in the future.         

Shumlin says the state currently spends roughly $52,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate in a Vermont jail - in contrast - he says a comprehensive community based program for this person will cost about $6,000 a year.

Shumlin says the state can save $40 million dollars over a four year period by lowering the state's recidivism rate for non violent offenders:

(Shumlin) "My goal as governor is, over a 4 year period, as these folks get released from their sentences - which happens right now, we're not changing anything as they get released - that we have the programs on the ground to ensure that they don't re-offend when you have 50 to 70% of the people re-offending you know you're losing the battle."

(Kinzel) Republican candidate Brian Dubie said Shumlin's plan was "irresponsible and reckless" because it would release hundreds of dangerous people back into Vermont's communities:

(Dubie) "What exactly is a non violent offender? Well, someone who sells methamphetamines, sells meth to children is a non violent offender, people who deal with drugs to children is a non violent offender, people that create child pornography, people that burglarize homes...and many times there are plea deals that allow offenders to serve a lesser crime that they were originally charged with."

(Kinzel) Shumlin said Dubie was intentionally misleading Vermonters about this plan and that only a few well qualified non violent offenders would be considered for early release:

(Shumlin) "What I say to Brian is Brian let's have a truthful discussion about the challenges that Vermont's facing we owe that to Vermonters in this extraordinary important job interview you know as well as I that we're not letting out people who committed felonies, sold drugs - we're not letting out pedophiles."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says Dubie's budget plan will increase the size of the state's projected deficit because Shumlin says Dubie wants to offer tax cuts to wealthy Vermonters at the same that he'll cut important state services for low income people.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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