The Advocates: Vermont’s public interest groups mobilize for change

Will 2019-2020 bring Vermont paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, smart justice reform, stronger protection from toxic chemicals and clean water? These are some of the goals of advocates for social, economic and environmental justice who have descended on the Vermont State House pressing for change on these and other issues in the new legislative biennium. We hold a roundtable discussion with leaders from some of Vermont’s key advocacy groups to hear about their priorities and strategies for the 2019-2020 legislative session. (January 9, 2019 broadcast)

Dan Barlow, Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Paul Burns, executive director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group 

Lauren Hierl, executive director, Vermont Conservation Voters

Kate Logan, director of programming & policy, Rights & Democracy

James Lyall, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont

 

VT Attorney General T.J. Donovan: Yes to reform, no to private prisons

On January 23, 2018, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued a statement strongly opposing a plan by Gov. Phil Scott to build a $140 million 925-bed private prison in Vermont. “Vermonters should ask some tough questions about whether there is a better way to address the need for correctional facilities in the state of Vermont,” wrote Donovan. Attorney General Donovan explains why he has taken the unusual step of coming out strongly and early against the governor’s plan. “I hope his leadership on this issue can be replicated nationally,” responded ACLU deputy director Bill Cobb. (January 24, 2018 broadcast)

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan

James Lyall, executive director, ACLU of Vermont

Bill Cobb, deputy director, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Ashley Sawyer, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, formerly incarcerated

Can we end mass incarceration?

According to the ACLU, Vermont currently incarcerates approximately 1,700 people. That’s three times the number of people it incarcerated in the 1980s and 50 percent more people than in the late 1990s.  According to the Sentencing Project, Vermont imprisons Black men at a higher rate than any other state. All this comes at great cost: the FY17 budget for the Department of Corrections was $142 million.

On January 24, 2018, the ACLU of Vermont launched Smart Justice Vermont. This is part of the National ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice that was launched in 2014 with a goal of cutting the national prison population of 2.3 million people in half. We discuss how Vermont, and the US, can take concrete steps to end mass incarceration. Cobb also discusses his experience being incarcerated in Pennsylvania. (January 24, 2018 broadcast)

James Lyall, executive director, ACLU of Vermont

Bill Cobb, deputy director, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Katrina Battle, founder, Milton Inclusion & Diversity Initiative

See you in court: Vt ACLU prepares to take on Pres. Trump

In President Trump’s first week in office, the American Civil Liberties Union handed him his first defeat: successfully challenging his refugee and Muslim ban in court and winning a stay in multiple federal courts. Now the Vermont chapter of the ACLU prepares to defend immigrant rights, privacy, LGBTQ rights, press freedom and other civil liberties in Vermont. We discuss the road ahead.

James Lyall, executive director, Vermont ACLU