Vt. prison abuse allegations trigger new system to report misconduct

Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 12:05 PM EST
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With a criminal investigation in progress into the Vermont Department of Corrections, we're now learning more about department oversight.

Vermont Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said a criminal investigation into the state women's prison began in October. This, after reports of sexual misconduct and drug use at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.

We're taking a closer look at how the state is handling the allegations.

State leaders are promising big changes after an impromptu update about allegations at Vermont's only women's prison. The AHS says it's rolling out a new system for both employees and inmates to report misconduct, sending the complaint to a third party.

The agency is also reintroducing sexual harassment training systemwide. Employees already go through the training but AHS is placing a new emphasis on it.

AHS is also seeking a third party to conduct an independent review of the Department of Corrections. At the same time, leaders say they're continuing to dig into how and why the alleged abuse happened.

"What I want to know is what did the current commissioner and when he was deputy commissioner and the superintendent, what issues happened on their watch and what did they do about it?" Smith said.

The secretary indicated those changes were coming last week when he spoke with WCAX News about the action his department was taking in the wake of the Seven Days investigation.

A full report is expected by the end of next week.

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