Vermont lawmakers have ideas about what should be included in a Corrections Department plan due out next week to fix what is broken in the state’s prison system, reports the Burlington Free Press.
Among them: Change a culture that allows serious incidents to go uninvestigated, hold the department accountable, fire people who retaliate against problem inmates, ensure that inmates get adequate and immediate medical and mental health treatment, and address the problem of a glutted prison system where resources struggle to keep up and long-term inmates mix with short-term detainees awaiting court appearances.
Legislators last week received a 70-page report on the department’s handling of seven deaths in the system. The report said the department bore responsibility in three cases, citing examples of misuse of power by prison guards and managers, failure to respond to requests for medical attention and numerous failures to follow the department’s own protocols. “I think the most important thing they have to change is the culture and I think that may mean some people have to get fired,” said Sen. Susan Bartlett, D-Lamoille. “This kind of attitude, this kind of behavior will not be accepted.”