Could drug treatment in prison have prevented a crime spree?

Published: Jan. 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM EST
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Does Vermont need more drug treatment in prisons? Everett Simpson's brother says yes.

A judge let Simpson out on bail to go to Valley Vista in Bradford. But Simpson walked out of the unlocked treatment facility instead. Police say Simpson then kidnapped a woman and her 5-year-old child in Manchester, New Hampshire, drove them to White River Junction and sexually assaulted her in a hotel. Simpson was later arrested in Pennsylvania.

Johnnie Simpson is Everett's older brother. He sat down with our Dom Amato for an exclusive interview about the horrific crimes his brother is accused of and why he thinks prison policy contributed to the crime spree.

Johnnie Simpson said he's embarrassed and sickened by what police say his brother did. He wonders if things would have been different if Everett received addiction treatment behind bars.

"None of us wanted him on the streets, not one family member. He needed help. We knew this," Johnnie Simpson said.

Johnnie says he and his brother Everett were close in their youth. He says he never thought Everett would be in the situation he's in now.

"For the first time, I believe my brother was broken and broken bad," Johnnie said.

He's talking about when Everett was most recently in jail dealing with drug withdrawal symptoms. Johnnie knows how difficult it is being a recovering drug user himself.

"When you go through that and you have no help for it at all, you're suffering," Johnnie said.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan says treatment should be happening in the community but he's not sure if it should be happening in state prisons.

"We really need to create a system that's customized based on public safety and based on need, and that requires a serious assessment to done," said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Judge Robert Bent let Everett Simpson out of jail to undergo treatment at Valley Vista, an unsecured facility in Bradford.

Reporter Dom Amato: Do you think he would have benefited from treatment in jail?

Johnnie Simpson: He would've absolutely benefited. And look at where we are now.

Everett was jailed since September, but his brother believes he didn't receive help for his withdrawal symptoms until the last month or so.

"But what if he was in there getting help this whole time?" Johnnie asked.

Johnnie says he loves his brother but he hates him, too, and he apologizes on behalf of his whole family to the New Hampshire victims.

"We're praying for them," he said. "And we understand that hate my brother but it's not us that wanted this either, you know. And just don't look at our family as a monster, too."

Vermont passed a law last year allowing inmates to continue medication-assisted treatment if they started it before serving time. Everett Simpson was not prescribed anything to help with his addiction before he was in jail.

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