Criminal Justice & Public Safety

The home for VPR's coverage of criminal justice and public safety issues across the state.

The Criminal Justice & Public Safety Team

Follow VPR reporters Liam Elder-Connors and Emily Corwin on Twitter for the latest on issues of criminal justice and public safety across the state. 
 

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below
Opioid Addiction | Guns | Marijuana | EB-5 | Vermont Supreme Court | Vermont Department Of Corrections

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Series & Specials

Death Behind Bars

After multiple reports of Vermont inmates who died of cancer after serving time in the state’s prison system, VPR investigated the limited transparency of health care provided to Vermont's inmate population. Explore the full series.

Gunshots: The role of guns in life — and death — in Vermont.

In Vermont, 420 people died from gunshot wounds between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2016. VPR dug into the numbers to better understand Vermonters relationship with guns. Explore the full series and the 2017 update of the data.

Retired lawyer James Dunn's book "Breach of Trust" looks at the scandal surrounding Chittenden County Assistant Judge Jane Wheel in the 1980s, tracing the growing controversy as it made its way up to the Vermont Supreme Court.
Onion River Press, courtesy

Lying under oath. Twisting court decisions for personal gain. Misuse of public money. And corruption in the judiciary that went all the way to Vermont’s highest court.

It may sound like the latest legal thriller, but it's the true story that rocked the state in the 1980s, ending with an investigation that saw the first-ever felony charges brought against a Vermont judge.

I can always count on Stephen Colbert to put my brain’s inner musings to words.

sheriff's hat  hanging on the wall
Emily Corwin / VPR

When you think of lucrative jobs in small states like Vermont, sheriff probably doesn't come to mind. But Seven Days reporter Alicia Freese found that some local law enforcement officers are doing a lot better than you might expect, which she wrote about in her recent article “For Vermont's Sheriffs, Policing Is a Lucrative Business.”

Bishop Christopher Coyne speaks at a podium.
Andy Duback / Associated Press

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington will cooperate with a task force investigating decades-old abuse allegations at a now-closed Burlington orphanage.

Logo for JOLTED, a five-part podcast about a school shooting that didn't happen, the line between thought and crime, and a Republican governor in a rural state who changed his mind about gun laws.
Aaron Shrewsbury for VPR

JOLTED is a new five-part podcast from VPR about the averted school shooting at Fair Haven Union High School earlier this year, and how it led to Gov. Phil Scott’s unexpected reversal on gun control legislation.

A view of Burlington's Church street from the bell tower of the Unitarian Church.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

The FBI has arrested a man in New Haven, Connecticut, after he allegedly made threats to schools and other public institutions in Burlington, Vermont.

The exterior of the Vermont Supreme Court building on State Street in Montpelier.
Matthew Smith / VPR

Legal and cultural norms regard sharing nude or indecent photos of someone without their consent as a violation of privacy. But when it's done to shame or humiliate that person, Vermont law says nonconsensual pornography—so-called "revenge porn"—is a crime. Now a Vermont Supreme Court ruling has overturned a lower court's decision, bolstering the state's law and deeming it constitutional.

Officer Ryan Washburn, left, and Everyone's Books co-owner Nancy Braus stand in the Brattleboro bookstore.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A bookstore owner in Brattleboro is donating books to the Police Department for individuals who have to spend the night locked up, waiting to be arraigned.

A new report collects accounts of alleged abuse at St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington. We're talking to the author of the report, which was published by BuzzFeed.
Wilson Ring / Associated Press

A new investigation from BuzzFeed News assembles allegations of horrifying abuse — possibly including murder — at a former Catholic orphanage in Burlington. We're talking to the report's author about what she uncovered.

Vermont sends a handful of the 1,350 minors in state custody to out-of-state residential treatment programs for issues like mental health or substance abuse.
tarasov_vl / iStock

Vermont’s Department of Corrections has more than 200 prisoners serving their sentences in out-of-state prisons. But what about the roughly 1,350 juveniles in state custody?

Ram: Language As Destiny

Aug 23, 2018
Benjamin Barkley / The Lowcountry Digital History Initiative

Born into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina, Samuel Williams came to Vermont as a young man when the Civil War ended and lived in Springfield and Windsor, where he found a life of freedom and raised a family.

Mary McCallum

One recent pristine summer afternoon, two people drowned on a popular southern Vermont lake. From a festive plastic float, they’d waved hello to others passing by on kayaks, paddle boards and canoes, including me.

Many news sources report that the Vermont Department for Children and Families, or DCF, is having to take responsibility for rapidly increasing numbers of children.

Reporters Courtney Lamdin and Colin Flanders
Henry Epp / VPR

Reporting by Milton's local newspaper has led police there to investigate embezzlement within the Milton Broncos youth football program, which runs football teams for children in first through eighth grade.

Jack Sawyer in Vermont Superior Court.
Ryan Mercer / The Burlington Free Press via Associated Press, Pool File

Attorneys for Jack Sawyer, the Poultney man accused of plotting to attack his former high school in Fair Haven, have asked the court to grant Sawyer "youthful offender" status, something they say would better address the 18-year old’s case.  

Costello Courthouse in Burlington. Right now people have to file petitions with the court to expunge or seal past criminal convictions. Some attorneys think that process should happen automatically once a person becomes eligible.
Beyond My Ken / Wikimedia Commons

With recreational marijuana now legal in Vermont some people arrested for having pot are getting those crimes removed from their records.

But marijuana misdemeanors aren’t the only crimes people can get expunged. In fact, many crimes are eligible, and some attorneys say the process should be easier, or even automatic.

It’s been widely reported that three small Vermont towns issue about one-quarter of all speeding tickets in the state. And the resulting revenue is said to be used to boost town coffers.

Journalists are a little like doctors. Sometimes they have to give people bad news. The difference is there’s no arguing with a heart attack.

A court has ordered the attorney general's office to pay legal fees in a public records case. The records at issue included personal emails from former Attorney General Bill Sorrell.
Toby Talbot / AP

A Vermont judge has ordered the state attorney general’s office to pay almost $66,000 in legal fees in three cases where it was forced to comply with the state's public records law.

Prevention Works! VT is hoping to make marijuana a less desirable choice for youth in Vermont.
Jessica Hyde / istock

It's now legal to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana under Vermont law if you're over 21. The law, which was passed in January, took effect on Sunday.

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