Vermont DOC to end its work crew program
The decline in work crew sentences is attributed to the success of criminal justice reforms, department officials said
By Sarah Roebuck
WILLISTON, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Corrections announced it will end its work crew program that helps low-level offenders on July 1.
Department officials said the Community Restitution Program, also known as "work crew," is "no longer viable due to a substantial decrease in the judiciary’s sentencing to work crew in recent years coupled with reforms to the Department’s community supervision practices."
Work crew sentences were used to prevent the incarceration of low-risk offenders, according to the DOC. Instead of prison, the court sentenced individuals to pre-determined employment for varying periods of time.
Officials said these sentences have "inadvertently created barriers to maintaining employment; individuals were also immediately remanded to incarceration upon failure to complete a work crew sentence."
The decline in work crew sentences is attributed to the success of criminal justice reforms, including Justice Reinvestment I and II initiatives, department officials said.
The department said Vermonters whose offenses historically warranted work crew sentences are now most commonly referred to diversion programs, community justice centers, or receive probation.
“As a department, we’re continuously striving to lead the nation and provide those in our care and custody the tools they need to succeed in Vermont’s communities,” said Nicholas J. Deml, commissioner of the Department of Corrections. “This includes assessing our programs and practices to ensure they contribute to an individual’s success outside prison walls. Reducing barriers to employment and providing more comprehensive vocational training aligns us closer to our stated mission and values, and Vermont’s approach to justice.”
The end of the work crew program comes as the DOC expands skills-based training and educational opportunities, including universal free Community College of Vermont classes for all incarcerated individuals and department staff.