MONTPELIER, VT- On Tuesday, Assistant attorney general molly gray urged lawmakers to bring Vermont’s out of state prison population home. She said around $6 million is spent on private prisons by taxpayers annually, and she wants to use that money for childcare.
“Now is the time to invest in children and families and not unnecessary and costly incarceration, said Gray. “We continue to pay CoreCivic, one of the largest private security companies in the United States to house Vermont inmates in Mississippi.”
Gray called for specific action to expand the Child Care Financial Assistance Program and for distribution of PPE and other health supplies for childcare providers.
“According to Let’s Grow Kids, an approximate $33 million is needed to address the pervasive inequity and fragility of our childcare and early education system,” said Gray.
Vicky Sennie, the co-director of Turtle Island Children’s Center in Montpelier spoke in support of Gray’s ideas. She said insufficient funding is something she has dealt with throughout her career and the pandemic has only made it worse.
“The entire system of childcare has been held up for too long on the backs of predominantly working women and it will collapse without financial support and continued stabilization, said Sennie. “At our school we have struggled to get what we need to do our work safely.”
Chittenden Counties State Attorney Sarah George explained that since the pandemic started, the Department of Corrections has decreased the number of people incarcerated, but she said more can be done in order to reinvest money
“We can divest an incredible amount of money from corrections by releasing more people safely into the community canceling our out of state prison contracts to bring those Vermonters home, and bringing far fewer people into our system at all. That money can be much better spent with better outcomes if we spend with better outcomes if we spend it on childcare, education, prevention, restorative justice programs, mental health and substance use and recovery services” said George.