Senate Advances Prison Population Reduction Measure

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(Host) The Senate has advanced a bill that’s designed to reduce the prison population and save the state money.

Bennington Senator Dick Sears chairs the Judiciary Committee. He says the Corrections Department budget has swelled from $70 million in 2002 to $137 million today.

The bill focuses on non-violent offenders. Sears says those who have served minimum sentences would be released, and it would be easier for others to get bail.

(Sears) "We have about 2,300 people incarcerated on any given day. And the goal of this bill is to get 200 people who are non violent offenders, who won’t impact the crime rate at all, out of jail and save roughly $4.6 million to the general fund."

(Host) Sears says the bill would boost programs aimed at reducing the number of people who commit crimes again, in order to save the state money in the long run.

(Sears) "Some of the money would go toward transitional housing. Some of it would go towards additional supervision. Some of it would go towards substance abuse treatment. Some of it would go to try to make work available and other things so they would have work available to them when they got out."

(Host) The bill comes up for final debate later this month. Then it would go to the House for its consideration.

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