One of the many negative consequences of the opioid epidemic in Vermont is the dramatic increase in family court cases addressing the abuse and neglect of children. The increase has bogged down the family courts and, more importantly, shows that opiate abuse is leading to more struggling and broken families. Last week, the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court explained to the Judiciary Committee the judicial branch’s efforts to address the crisis. In particular, he discussed a Judicial Commission created by the Supreme Court that is evaluating how treatment courts can alleviate the problem. Properly run treatment courts, which provide close supervision of participants to hold them accountable for meeting their rehabilitation obligations, reduce recidivism. They can help mend families and reduce costs in the justice system. The key is to determine how best to implement treatment courts, which is the charge of the Judicial Commission. Legislation to implement the findings of the Commission is expected next Biennium.
This week, the Committee passed the parentage bill, which will be reported on the floor on Friday. It has also started to consider a bill to modify bail.