Chittenden County state’s attorney candidates participate in forum

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 11:25 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For the first time, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George has an opponent in the primary election on Aug. 9.

Monday night, she and fellow Democratic candidate Ted Kenney took part in a forum hosted by Vermont Interfaith Action to discuss the issues.

One of the biggest talking points was restorative justice. Both candidates agree that it plays a key role in the criminal justice system. The biggest difference between George and Kenney is how and when it should be used. The forum started with both candidates defining what it is.

“It’s taking steps to make sure you are being held accountable to take responsibility and doing actual concrete things to make sure you are helping heal the harm that is caused,” George explained.

“It can make amends. It does that which is right by trying to fix what can be fixed and make up for things that can’t be fixed,” Kenney said.

How and when should it be used? Kenney said it’s appropriate in most situations, but not all.

If we start using the criminal system for cases that should be in the criminal system and not the restorative justice system, we don’t overdo it. I want to make sure that balance is struck,” he said.

George, on the other hand, has a track record of using restorative justice generously, which often includes the use of programs over jail time. She says it helps dismantle a system that’s historically done more harm than good.

“What you might think it’s a slap on the wrist or getting away for crime, is actually better for victims and better for offenders in terms of their recidivism rates, which is better for all of us,” George said.

Both candidates say they want to address inequities in the system, with very different plans.

“The biggest difference is probably that I have acted on my opinion that this system needs to be reformed but dismantled, and I have implemented policies that actually do that,” George said.

“I think we have different experiences and come from different perspectives,” said Kenney. “I value people that have different sets of life experiences.”

Kenney has previously called George out for being too lax in her policies, specifically conditions of release. Meanwhile, George has said Kenney is spreading misleading information about her.

The primary is on Aug. 9. You can vote in person or request a mail-in ballot. As of now, no Republicans are in the running for Chittenden County state’s attorney.

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