The Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign is in full force in Vermont, with our friends Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform leading the fight to bring approximately 500 men home from out-of-state private, for-profit prisons. More than a decade ago, Vermont prisoners were shipped away as a tactic, or "temporary solution" to alleviate prison overcrowding, yet little has been done to resolve this crisis. Vermont prisoners remain a steady revenue stream for Corrections Corporation of America, filling their prison beds in Kentucky and Arizona. Now, we are proud to stand with Vermonters and affected families who are bravely speaking out to put an end to this.
That is why today's Humpday Hall of Shame belongs to the Caledonian Record, a rural Vermont paper whose editors have chosen to attack and intimidate the individuals who are fighting for the return of their loved one from out-of-state private prison. In an editorial comment titled, Keep Away, the authors attempt to shame two women who have spoken out about the pain and struggle they experience having their sons shipped away by calling them "sobbing moms" and exposing details from the two men's court cases. They wrote, "Ship 'em all to Kentucky, we say. Or Siberia for all we care."
The Caledonian Record completely misses the mark. The paper can choose to spew hate and attack vulnerable women who are speaking up for their loved ones and for better criminal justice practices. But, that doesn't solve the problem for Vermonters whose loved ones are locked up out-of-state or for all Vermonters whose best interests include maintaining community ties for incarcerated people who eventually return home and in lowering prison populations and prison spending. At Grassroots Leadership, we stand in solidarity with prisoners and their families and all Vermonters fighting for safe and sane criminal justice policy, one that benefits communities and not private prison corporation bottom lines.
Support for the Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign in Vermont is growing everyday. Hundreds have signed the petition to bring prisoners home and are speaking out about why this is important for all Vermonters. In October, we delivered a letter signed by nearly thirty Vermont organizations, groups and businesses to the Administration and to political candidates calling for the return of Vermonters from out-of-state, private, for-profit prisons. Vermonters incarcerated out-of-state and impacted families are writing letters and sharing their stories, which will be elevated in a new report set to be released next month. And, reputable Vermont media outlets recognize the hard work of Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and the growing grassroots power of the Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign. Check out the press round up below, and look out for more updates on the campaign coming soon.
August 2014, Burlington Free Press - Advocates renew push to keep inmates in VT
September 2014, VT Digger - Advocates pitch plan to bring prisoners home
October 2014, Seven Days - Fracas in Arizona Prison Leads to Lockdown for Vermont Inmates
October 2014, Valley Post - Prisoner Uprising
October 2014, The Commons Online - Time to bring our prisoners closer to home
October 2014, VT Digger - Suzi Wizowaty: Pointing the Finger
November 2014, VT Digger - Kentucky prison not a good bargain for Vermonters
November 2014, Burlington Free Press - Coalition wants Vermont prisoners home