State's attorney ramps up review of women's cases linked to Vt. prison

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 5:58 PM EST
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Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George is reviewing cases to get some women out of jail. The move comes amid allegations of abuse by corrections officials at the women's prison in South Burlington.

George says after details in a Seven Days investigation this month came out about the abuse inside this facility, she wanted to ensure there were no women there serving time that didn't need to be.

When she first reviewed the cases, there were 22 women in the facility facing charges in Chittenden County. Some have already been cleared or released, others are waiting for a decision by a judge, and some are still being worked on.

George says she's focused on cases where inmates are being housed who may not need to be here. She says some women are being held on minor violations and others may not have DOC approved housing. She says furlough sentences sometimes can be an issue between prosecutors and the DOC.

"Most prosecutors agree to furlough sentences with the idea that they will be in the community, they'll just be on a higher level of supervision. And instead, it seems like that same status is used to pull people into jail again on somewhat minor reasons and hold them in jail, which is rarely the intent of the parties," George said.

George says she told other state's attorneys throughout Vermont about her plan to review cases and many agreed to do the same, but it's unclear if any action will be taken. She also said former DOC Commissioner Mike Touchette's resignation this week was unfortunate because they shared similar visions for Vermont's prisons, but she says she has no idea what, if any, role Touchette had in the drug and sex abuse scandal at the prison.

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