Vermont Imprisons African Americans at High Rate

More than 10 percent of the people in Vermont prisons are African American. Just 1 percent of people in Vermont are black. Curtiss Reed is director of the Brattleboro-based Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity That's a statewide group that fights
racism and has full-time employees. On February 22, he told the Valley Post, "Last week I testified to the (Vermont) House Judiciary Committee on behalf of H. 535." That House bill would pay for a study to try to find out why black people are so much more likely to be imprisoned in Vermont.

Senator Jeanette White represents Windham county, which includes Brattleboro, in the Vermont legislature. She told the Valley Post, “We have a huge prison population. All those people don’t belong in prison." White said that if there is an organization that lobbies to reduce the number of prisoners in Vermont, she doesn't know about it.

Vermont's prison population doubled between 1996 and 2006, from 1,058 to 2,123, while crime rates did not increase. That's according to this web page:

Vermont is home to about 626,000 people. The U.S. population is about 312 million. As of 2008, there were about 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons. No other nation on earth incarcerates such a high percentage of its people. As of 2008, the U.S. had about 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. "England's rate is 151; Germany's is 88; and Japan's is 63." That's according to "U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations," an article by Adam Liptak that appeared in the New York Times on 4/23/2008.

About 13 percent of Americans are black. In the U.S. in 2008, black men were six times more likely to be in prison than white men. That's according to:

According to the New York Review of Books, "Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. 'The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness' by Michelle Alexander [published in 2010] is such a work."

Alexander will speak about her book in Amherst on November 1 and/or November 2. Details are at:

She lists groups that work to reduce the number of prisoners in the U.S. at:


When I think about it, why

When I think about it, why would Vermont be any different from the rest of the USA? Great article.

Ismail Samad
Wilmington, Vermont

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