As state leaders struggle with growing Corrections Department costs, a consultant’s report says Vermont could save $54 million and decrease the prison population by 436 inmates over the next decade by making five changes.
The recommendations are to expand the use of community drug treatment programs and increase the size of the state’s work camp. The report also suggests getting offenders released on conditional re-entry into treatment; providing offenders on probation with incentives for good behavior; increasing transitional housing and releasing offenders eligible for reintegration status on time.
State officials and legislators called the recommendations reasonable and said they are aiming to decrease the amount of time offenders spend in prison and the chance that they will reoffend.
The study was released Wednesday by the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, which studied Vermont’s Correction’s system over nine months with help of a federal grant.
The Corrections budget rose 129 percent from $48 million in 1996 to $130 million this year. The report says if changes aren’t made, the prison population will increase 23 percent by 2018.