Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday signed a trio of criminal justice bills, two of which he said are tied to the state's fight against opiate addiction.
Shumlin, back from a morning meeting of New England governors about opiate addiction, said the bills will help Vermont continue to lead the nation in its approach to battling addiction.
The governor signed S.295, S.308 and S.184, bills that address pretrial services, precious metals regulations and bias-free policing, respectively.
The pretrial services bill was the hallmark of the House and Senate judiciary committees this session. It aims to connect more people who intersect with the criminal justice system with addiction treatment and other services.
The pretrial bill sets up a statewide system of monitors who will track whether people comply with instructions from the court to seek treatment or other services.
The bill also creates a uniform statewide tool to evaluate people entering the court system for failure to appear in court or their likelihood to commit a new crime.
The bill also includes several last-minute additions, including more regulations on doctors who prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to help addicts recover, to cut down on incidents in which the drug, also known as suboxone, is sold on the streets.
Shumlin also signed S.184, a bill aimed at eliminating racial bias in police work in Vermont.
The bill mandates that all police departments adopt a bias-free policing policy. Lawmakers this session learned some departments had no policy or a deficient policy and heard stories about the racial profiling of migrant farm workers.
That bill also asks police to start collecting roadside stop data, which will eventually allow analysts to study policing trends.
The bill also includes two other criminal justice measures concerning eyewitness identification and the recording of interviews with potential suspects during investigations of certain crimes.
The precious metals bill, S.308, aims to make it harder for people to benefit from selling metals, with the hope that the number of burglaries will decrease as a result. Drug addicts often steal precious metals and sell them, Shumlin said.
Shumlin also signed two executive orders creating criminal justice-related task forces.