Criminal Justice & Public Safety

The home for VPR's coverage of criminal justice and public safety issues across the state.

The Criminal Justice & Public Safety Team

Follow VPR reporters Liam Elder-Connors and Emily Corwin on Twitter for the latest on issues of criminal justice and public safety across the state. 

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below
Opioid Addiction | Guns | Marijuana | EB-5 | Vermont Supreme Court | Vermont Department Of Corrections

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Max Misch, alleged to have harassed former Vermont legislator Kiah Morris, is shown here at a press conference held by Attorney General T.J. Donovan in Bennington in January.
Linda Rathke / Associated Press/File

Last year, then-Rep. Kiah Morris of Bennington announced she would not seek re-election to her Statehouse seat, citing racial harassment by avowed white supremacist Max Misch. Since then, Misch was charged with unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device or magazine. That charge is now being challenged by Misch, bringing one of Vermont's new gun control laws to the state Supreme Court.

Portraits of Mark Hughes, Yuol Herjok and Jabulani Gamache, newly appointed members of Burlington's Police Commission.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Vermont's largest city has been grappling with questions around police oversight after incidents of alleged excessive force. The tipping point came in May, after federal lawsuits accused Burlington officers of using unnecessary force against black men.

In light of these incidents, the city council in June appointed three black men to the citizen commission that oversees Burlington police. The new members all have different backgrounds, but they share common goals: repairing trust between the community and police.

A new law that goes into effect Wednesday, gives adult victims of childhood sex abuse in New York one year to bring civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers and the institutions that may have allowed the abuse.

The one-year filing period is known as a "look-back window," and allows victims to bring cases that used to be beyond the state's statute of limitations that legislators overhauled this year. Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou is one of the people who voted for the new law, touting it at a news conference on Tuesday.

The exterior of Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester, with cars parked out front
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR File

A federal judge on Friday ordered Vermont's juvenile detention facility to reduce the use of solitary confinement and ease disciplinary procedures.

Author Rick Winston's book "Red Scare In The Green Mountains" looks at the era of McCarthyism in Vermont from 1946 through 1960.
Rootstock Publiching, Courtesy

Vermont Edition presents two encore interviews with Vermont authors who wrote about some rather compelling moments in the state's history: how Vermont weathered instances of Red Scare, and a judiciary scandal that reached all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Vermont State Police cars parked on a Montpelier street. Police tape is up, some officers stand nearby.
John Dillon / VPR

Montpelier police shot and killed a man on Friday morning, and Vermont State Police are now investigating the fatal shooting.

Listeners ask a lot of questions. And VPR's Brave Little State is there to find answers. 

James Cumming

Browsing in my favorite social change bookstore, I overheard two customers talking. One asked, ‘Have we ever had a more racist president than this one?’ And the other replied, 'Maybe Andrew Johnson?'

The news has been inescapable: 22 people shot and killed in El Paso, Texas on Saturday. Hours later, another mass shooting left nine dead in Dayton, Ohio. Dozens more were wounded. And even more were killed in deadly shootings in Houston and Chicago over the weekend. How do take steps toward healing after such horrific mass shootings?

The Catholic Diocese of Manchester is publishing a comprehensive list of priests accused of sexually assaulting minors.

The report includes the names of priests both living and deceased dating back to 1950. 

While all of the names were previously public, the Diocese says it created a website page as an act of "ownership and accountability." 

Methamphetamine, an illegal drug that sends the body into overdrive, is surging through the United States. Federal drug data provided exclusively to NPR show seizures of meth by authorities have spiked, rising 142% between 2017 and 2018.

A woman holds a young boy on an unfinished porch while a man looks on.
Elodie Reed / VPR

It’s been more than 150 years since it was legal to arrest people in Vermont for unpaid debts.

And yet over the last two decades, roughly 200 debtors in Caledonia County’s small claims court were issued arrest warrants, often after missing hearings or failing to make payments.

New Hampshire decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana - three-quarters or less of an ounce - in 2017. But many people in the state are still carrying criminal records from before the decriminalization of the drug.

Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a bill into law that provides a procedure for the annulment of arrests or convictions for possession of three-quarters or less of an ounce of marijuana.

A Burlington Police Department officer equipped with a body camera.
Burlington Police Department, courtesy

In March, 54-year-old Douglas Kilburn died three days after getting into an altercation with Burlington Police Officer Cory Campbell. The fight occurred after Campbell responded a second time to Kilburn's behavior at the UVM Medical Center, including blocking the ambulance bay with his car. Vermont's chief medical examiner ruled Kilburn's death a homicide, but did not find a specific cause of death. Now a court decision has led to the public release of Officer Campbell's body camera footage of the incident.


Norwich is a talkative community – on sidewalks, in the Post Office, around kitchen tables, and especially on the town’s email listserve, where thorny issues get thrashed out in public on a daily basis. This summer, what’s got people riled up is a plan to install two sets of solar-powered blinking lights that pedestrians could activate with buttons, at busy cross walks. They’d be the only traffic lights in town.

The head of the Massachusetts motor vehicle division resigned Tuesday for that agency's failure to terminate the commercial driving license of a man whose collision with a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire on Friday left seven people dead.

Listen: Reporter Todd Bookman talks with NHPR's Peter Biello about the latest updates in this story:

That driver shouldn't have had a license, but officials in Massachusetts are now blaming a bureaucratic error.

The exterior of Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester, with cars parked out front
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR File

A new federal lawsuit alleges children at Vermont's juvenile detention center are being held in conditions that are "physically and emotionally harmful."

Court documents say children at Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center are held in dangerous restraints and long-term isolation and don't receive adequate mental health treatment.

The lawsuit, filed by Disability Rights Vermont, asks for Woodside to stop these practices and develop new policies.

Nearly half the people admitted to state prisons in the U.S. are there because of violations of probation or parole, according to a new nationwide study that highlights the personal and economic costs of the practice.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center said the majority of these violations are for "minor infractions," such as failing a drug test or missing a curfew. Those so-called technical violations cost states $2.8 billion every year, the report says.

A timeline showing the rollout of the new Vermont Judiciary case management system. It begins in 2019 and doesn't complete until 2021.
Vermont Judiciary, Courtesy

The Vermont Judiciary has begun rolling out its new electronic records system. It will provide court employees, plaintiffs, defendants and other parties access to Vermont court records through an online interface.