"What the heck is going on in this system?" asked Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County.
It's a question many Vermonters hope can be answered soon. Lawmakers are beginning hearings into how Vermont handles sex offenders following the death of Brooke Bennett.
"One of my concerns is that sex offenders are crafty and clever and I hope they will implement a law that will prevent this from happening to another child," said Catherine Metropoulos, the mother of a crime victim.
Brooke's uncle Michael Jacques is the prime suspect in her disappearance. For the first time, his probation officer spoke about why Jacques was released 7 years early from probation following a rape conviction.
"It truly is a tragedy and I welcome the opportunity again to make it better," said probation officer Rich Kearney.
Kearney says Jacques had done everything right; completing treatment, getting a job, and getting married.
"I myself was asked do I recommend discharge. What I said was he had been successful in complying with the terms and conditions of his probation and I saw no reason for him to be withheld from probation," explained Kearney.
But it turns out Kearney did not report to a judge that Jacques had violated probation by not re-registering as a sex offender in New Hampshire where he worked. Kearney says for Vermont offenders with New Hampshire jobs-- that's common.
"He was where he said he was, but for having the registration expired he wasn't avoiding supervision, he was where he needed to be," said Kearney.
"When I read the whole damn record I see truly the failure of our corrections system to talk to each other," said Sears.
"With the benefit of hindsight we were wrong, the department was wrong, and the prosecutor was right," said Vt. Corrections Commissioner Rob Hofmann.
"I think we are going to see changes. I think it's going to be more difficult to be a sex offender in Vermont," said Sears.
Corrections officials did point out that how sex offenders are dealt with has changed since the Jacques case. The department now conducts random lie detector tests and also says it has better ways to assess the risk to reoffend. The Douglas administration laid out several recommendations-- from tougher sentencing to using technology to better track offenders.
Thursday, December 5 2013 12:33 AM EST2013-12-05 05:33:24 GMT
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region. Home Instead Senior Care is collecting gifts as part of its "Be a Santa to a Senior Program." The group'sMore >>
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 12:25 AM EST2013-12-05 05:25:13 GMT
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver. They say Wednesday afternoon an older model red Subaru wagon driving north on Route 14 in Williamstown crossed into oncoming traffic, enteredMore >>
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 12:21 AM EST2013-12-05 05:21:10 GMT
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues. Wednesday night the South Burlington School board voted to pursue an appeal with the state supreme court to keep the clinic away fromMore >>
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues. More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-05 01:05:10 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:24 PM EST2013-12-04 23:24:21 GMT
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges. Police say Joshua Loura is now linked to three break-ins in Wolcott and Johnson. He was already accused ofMore >>
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges.More >>