According to the ACLU of Vermont, “Every metric we have shows that Black Vermonters face systemic barriers to education, health care, employment, and justice.” Too often, conversations about racism consist of white reporters (like me) asking black people to explain their lives. In Vermont, this reflects the fact that most media outlets have few to no people of color on staff, an outgrowth of a system of white privilege that has provided countless opportunities for whites to advance in the world of journalism, while people of color are left off the airwaves and out of print. Maroni Minter, campaigns director at ACLU of Vermont and my nephew, discusses his own experiences with racism as an African American man in Vermont, and leads a conversation with Vermonters of color in a wide-ranging discussion about race and racism in one of the whitest states in the US. (June 17, 2020 broadcast)
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