The Cost of Being Incarcerated in Vermont

The Cost of Being Incarcerated in Vermont, a five part investigative series

The State of Vermont exploits incarcerated Vermonters in numerous ways. This investigative series sheds light on the Department of Corrections’ coercive practices regarding the labor and finances of incarcerated Vermonters.

Part one looks at Vermont’s history of exploiting incarcerated people and examines recent legislative actions meant to abolish slavery without addressing coercive labor practices in prisons. Part two investigates the employment options, wages, and protections that incarcerated workers do or do not have. Parts three and four show how the Vermont Department of Corrections signs monopoly contracts with private national corporations that exploit incarcerated people through exorbitant fees and charges. Lastly, part five examines how local Vermont municipalities, utilities, non-profits, and even school districts use prison labor to shore up their own labor and budget constraints.

This series follows the Marshall Project’s editorial guide for words we use when covering people and incarceration, such as “incarcerated people,” “imprisoned people,” and “people in prison.”

Part 1: Vermont’s History of Exploiting Prison Labor

Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility

September 28, 2022
The Vermont Abolish Slavery and Indentured Servitude Amendment to the Vermont State Constitution does not seem to address the Vermont Department of Correction’s Vermont Offender Work Programs (VOWP), which, while technically voluntary, is considered by many to be modern-day slavery.

Part 2: Incarcerated Workers Have Few Employment Options or Protections

Northwest State Correctional Facility

October 19, 2022
Vermont’s incarcerated workers are exploited by the State, the Vermont Department of Corrections, and the many nonprofits and municipalities that employ them.

Part 3: How A Private Telecom Company Profits on Those in Vermont Prisons

GTL Telecom Profits in Vermont Prisons

November 1, 2022
Both private corporations and the state generate revenue from high prices charged to incarcerated Vermonters.

Part 4: How the Commissary Exploits Those in Vermont Prisons

Image of a hand holding a dollar being cut into pieces, in front of a background of the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility

November 30, 2022
Global Tel Links and their subcontractors profit from the Department of Corrections Commissary, with the DOC itself receiving a significant cut.

Part 5: Municipalities Balance Books on the Backs of Incarcerated

southern state correctional facility

January 6, 2023
Dozens if not hundreds of Vermont organizations and municipalities have used incarcerated labor as a way to save money, creating an incentive for municipalities to over-police in exchange for cheap labor.

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