Waterbury, VT – The Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) announced today that it will immediately move to digitize its grievance system and create an independent investigative unit following recommendations from a new report by the State Auditor’s Office.
“It’s time to make these much-needed upgrades, and I thank State Auditor Doug Hoffer and his staff for their thorough analysis of the current system and assistance in identifying key opportunities for change,” said Nicholas J. Deml, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. “The grievance process is an important tool for incarcerated individuals to report concerns and to alert DOC staff to issues requiring immediate attention. These changes will increase accountability and transparency across Vermont’s entire correctional system.”
Vermont will be among the first states to deploy a digital, tablet-based grievance system statewide.
The new software will move the current paper-based system—which involves collecting carbon copy forms and mailing them to a central office—directly onto the tablets all incarcerated individuals in Vermont already use for education, communicating with family, and entertainment.
DOC is designing a larger technological modernization later next year but is expediting the plan for the new grievance system for early 2023.
DOC also announced it is standing up a Corrections Investigative Unit, codified in 2021, with the authority to conduct reviews of the grievance process in addition to investigations into major incidents such as escapes, allegations of sexual assault, and deaths of individuals in state custody.
The DOC Commissioner announced additional plans to expand training on the revamped grievance process for the Vermont Correctional Academy and current staff, some of which has already been put into place.
“Vermont is once again taking a major step forward to lead the nation on this issue,” said Commissioner Deml. “And it is a reminder that improvements to our correctional system can positively impact every individual—regardless of incarceration status—and make us all safer, healthier, and more accountable.”