Racial Injustice in Vermont

Published by Jessica Burke on

Racial injustice must be addressed in Vermont.

In Vermont policing and prosecutions disproportionately effect people of color.

According to the ACLU: “Vermont has some of the worst prison racial disparities in the country. In 2017, the rate at which Black adults entered correctional facilities in Vermont was more than seven times higher than the rate for white adults. This imbalance starts from initial law enforcement contact and continues through subsequent stages, such as pretrial detention, conviction, sentencing, and post-release opportunity.

In Vermont, Black and Latinx drivers are up to 3.9 times more likely to be pulled over while driving than white people. Black and Latinx people are also more likely to be searched as the result of a traffic stop, but only half as likely to be caught with illegal contraband as their white counterparts.

We can’t solve a problem we can’t see: while Vermont has a growing body of police stop data and inconsistent reporting by DOC, if we are going to identify and address the sources of disparities, we need much more accessible, systemwide data — including courts, prosecutors, probation officers, and police.

Reducing the number of people who are imprisoned in Vermont will not on its own reduce the prison racial disparities that are among the worst in the nation. Vermont needs to invest in identifying the sources of racial disparities if we are going to fulfill our commitment to ending them.”

Eliminating racial injustice in Vermont will take a concerted effort on behalf of all Vermonters. We can do better. We must do better.


Jessica Burke

Jessica Burke is a licensed Vermont attorney and the founder of Burke Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Boston College in Political Science, and then received her law degree from Washington & Lee Law School. After law school she worked with several top law firms before settling in Vermont and building her own practice. In addition to being licensed to practice law in the state of Vermont, she also holds a State Bar certification in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, among others. She specializes in criminal defense, including DUI defense, homicides, and sex crimes.

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