Vt. Wants To Bring Prisoners Home To Help Fund New Initiative

03/31/11 12:04PM By Bob Kinzel

AP/Toby Talbot
The Northwest State Correctional Facility is one of the state's prisons.
(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin says all three branches of government have developed a plan to reduce the number of prison inmates who commit another crime after they're released.

The state says it will pay for the initiative by bringing 100 inmates back to Vermont from out-of-state prisons where they're now held.

That's expected to save four-and-a-half million dollars. Part of that money will be spent on community programs designed to drive down the frequency that released inmates will re-offend.

Shumlin says the initiative has two main goals.

(Shumlin) "We want to ensure that our drug and alcohol-addicted citizens, who struggle with these challenges, get the service that they need to get off their addictions and become productive members of Vermont society. Second, it's costing taxpayers a ton of money."

(Host) Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito says the state is able to begin to implement the program because the overall prison population has fallen.

It was projected Vermont would have 26-hundred people in its prison system. But that has fallen to 21-hundred, making space to move out-of-state prisoners back to Vermont.

Pallito says that frees up money for other services.

(Pallito) "We've been able to release some of the pressure on the overall general fund budget. And if we continue to see success that money will be available to redirect and put in those street-level services and prevent what we see now, which is just a habitual reincarceration of people."

(Host) Now, at least half of all non-violent offenders tend to commit another crime within three years of their release. The goal is to drive down that rate.

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