A civil liberties advocacy group is pushing back against a plan for a new women’s prison in Vermont. A proposed bill that would reimagine prisons in the state, including building a new women’s prison to replace the current South Burlington facility and upgrading others. Wednesday, the ACLU of Vermont called on the state to reinvest in alternatives to incarceration instead, like housing, schools and mental health treatment. The ACLU also criticized the proposed bill’s burden on taxpayers, citing the cost-per-bed-added for the new facility. “The cost of constructing a new secure bed is estimated to be $800,000 to $900,000 per bed… and so we are very concerned about the numbers and the cost this might bring to our communities,” said Falko Schilling, the advocacy director for the ACLU of Vermont. The ACLU says the proposed facility would nearly double the current prison’s capacity, though Corrections officials say the plan will likely keep bed numbers similar. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says they will explore a variety of solutions to the state’s justice system.
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