To the Editor:
Vermont has been incarcerating people in Mississippi prisons. Recently, we’ve seen that many of these Vermonters have been infected by the COVID-19 virus.
To its credit, the state has sent an investigator to Mississippi to determine if our fellow Vermonters are being cared for as they should be. This is a good thing to do, but it would be much better to not incarcerate Vermont prisoners far from home in the first place.
Incarcerating people distant from family and friends is cruel and unusual punishment and should never be done. It does not help rehabilitate people and leads to high recidivism rates.
I don’t want to think about the awful influences our fellow Vermonters are exposed to in Mississippi prisons. Let’s bring all Vermonters back from out-of-state prisons. In many cases, they can be released to probationary supervision.
For those deemed too dangerous to release, we need to build the necessary facilities to safely and humanely rehabilitate them. We can’t afford to not do this. Let’s take our cues from Scandinavian approaches rather than from the worst kind of so-called “corrections” operations.