"We've got a person who is basically a serial burglar. At least at times in his life," said Justin Jiron, a deputy prosecutor for Chittenden County. "How do we protect the public going forward?"
"Jail is completely counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve," said Sandra Lee, Verge's lawyer.
It's a case that sparked debate in a Burlington courtroom. Confessed burglar David Verge, 33, of Essex, is answering for his crimes-- nine break-ins during a 5-month span in 2011. He stole to get high, a problem all too familiar to the court.
"It's a pervasive problem in the area, not just Burlington, but around the state," Jiron said.
Verge's drug use started when he was 8. By 14 he was addicted to opiates, in jail by 18, and he spent most of the next 14 years behind bars, never going more than three days without drugs-- bartering for a fix on the inside.
"Throughout his entire time while incarcerated, he used. It was readily available," Lee said.
"I hated myself for the person I was," Verge said.
Verge told the court his days used to revolve around finding his next fix, a cycle that continued until he sought support. Daily suboxone treatment and a stable home life have kept him clean and crime-free and out of jail for the last 15 months.
"For the first time people see the good in me and not just what my bads are, my bad traits. They have faith in me," Verge said.
His lawyer called for 30 days in jail followed by 6 months home confinement. But the state wanted a 6-12 year sentence. The judge-- concerned with ruining Verge's recovery-- compromised on 18 months behind bars.
"You have made extraordinary progress. However it's more than just about you. There's a public to consider. There's victims to consider," Vt. Superior Court Judge Linda Levitt said.
The state says the sentence is a gamble. And prosecutors are not convinced it's long enough to deter future criminals.
"There are people who can turn their lives around and change. Whether Mr. Verge is one of those is hard to know at this point," Jiron said.
Will a habitual offenders' success survive another stint in prison? Only time will tell.
Verge could have gotten up to 25 years in prison on the home invasion burglary charges or even a life sentence as a habitual offender.
Some counseling and substance abuse treatment is available in prison, but it's not as robust as it is on the outside. Verge will only be able to get his suboxone prescription for the first 30 days before DOC weans him off. Corrections says it does not want to become the substance abuse treatment center for the state.
Friday, April 18 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:04:40 GMT
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road. Investigators say 63-year-old Eric Ladd was walking slipped and hitMore >>
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:00:59 GMT
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire. On Wednesday workers were doing spring clean-up at Wheelock park when they found a 55-gallon drumMore >>
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:58:40 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>