The ACLU wants Vermonters to get to know their elected prosecutors
The ACLU of Vermont is launching an online database to inform voters about their candidates for upcoming state’s attorney elections.
This will be the first centralized location for voters to learn about the policies of their sitting state’s attorneys. The “Your Vote, Your Prosecutor,” campaign aims to give Vermonters a clearer picture of their elected prosecutors.
The website features detailed profiles on every county's current incumbent. Each profile includes publicly-available written policies, contact information, and links to learn more. Pages will be updated regularly with the candidates who will be challenging incumbents for one of the 14 state’s attorney seats.
Jay Diaz, general counsel for the ACLU of Vermont, says that this is an opportunity for Vermonters to learn more about how important our elected prosecutors are to the criminal justice system.
Diaz hopes that incumbents and candidates do not just fly under the radar.
“Vermonters and Vermont voters are really the only check that we have on Vermont state's attorneys, there is very little else in the way of accountability," he said. "And so we have to inform them so that when they go to the ballot box, they can know that they are voting their values."
“Vermonters and Vermont voters are really the only check that we have on Vermont state's attorneys, there is very little else in the way of accountability."Jay Diaz, ACLU of Vermont
Recent analysis has shown racial disparities in Vermont drug prosecutions. A November 2021 Racial Equity in Sentencing Analysis conducted by a special council of the state government shows Black Vermonters are 14 times more likely to be charged with felony drug crimes than white Vermonters.
The council recommended creating more consistent charging and plea bargaining decisions across Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices, among other recommendations to address the disparities.
“We need to know what's going on,” Diaz said. “It's our vote. It's our tax dollars. And it's our values. And those things are what Vermonters stand for the standard for criminal justice reform. And they stand for an end to racial disparities.”
As candidates continue to throw their hats into the race, the ACLU will publish their views towards criminal law reform, police accountability, and racial justice among other key issues.
The primaries for Vermont’s state’s attorney races will be held on Aug. 9, and the general election is Nov. 8.