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Vermont has an incarceration rate of 288 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than almost any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Vermont and why.

Jump to COVID-19 data.


2,100 people from Vermont are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 2,100 Vermont residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Vermont is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 9,000 different people are booked into local jails in Vermont.


Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years

graph showing the number of people in state prison and local jails per 100,000 residents in Vermont from 1978 to 2015 We inquired about the drop in Vermont's incarceration rate in the mid to late-1990s and learned it was the result of a new intermediate sanctions program and the increased use of furlough. This was a one time improvement after which a new law decreased the use of bail, causing the population to rise again.
Also see these Vermont graphs:


Today, Vermont’s incarceration rates stand out internationally

graphic comparing the incarceration rates of the founding NATO members with the incarceration rates of the United States and the state of Vermont. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 288 for Vermont is much higher than any of the founding NATO membersIn the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.


People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails

2010 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in Vermont

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in VT as of 2010

See also our detailed graphs about Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks in Vermont prisons.


Vermont's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons

Pie chart showing that 7,800 Vermont residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole


Data on COVID-19 in Vermont jails and prisons

We gave Vermont a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:

  • Vermont failed to utilize one of the most obvious, and easiest, tools for reducing the prison population — stopping prison admissions for technical violations of probation and parole (which are not crimes).
  • Vermont is one of 15 prison systems that does not have a policy making hand sanitizer widely available or providing free hygiene products — like soap — to incarcerated people.

For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources:


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