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To the editor: The Reformer's front page January 6 article, "Sheriff’s deputies question Laurie List placement," is written almost entirely from the perspective of the police officers. Vermont sends prisoners to a private prison in Mississippi to save money. No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the USA. Europe's rate is a third of ours. The USA's prison system is racist. That's according to the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

In Brattleboro in 2016, a court case against police officers whose errors sent a man to prison for 18 years for a crime he probably did not commit ended. The state paid $1.5 million to the family of John Grega, who died after he was released from prison. “The Grega family is very happy,” Ian Carleton told ValleyPost.org. He was the family's lawyer. “They fought for justice and they got it.”

In 2012, a judge ordered John Grega released from prison in Springfield, Vermont, after 18 years in prison for a murder that he probably did not commit. The murder happened in 1994 in Dover, Vt. Grega died in a car crash in January 2015. The judge said a prosecutor and three state police officers probably fabricated evidence in the case.

A group that has a web site at InnocenceProject.org has freed 237 people from prison in the USA by proving they were innocent of the crime they were imprisoned for. On average those people spent 14 years in prison. About half the people in U.S. prisons are there for non-violent crimes, mostly related to drugs. A group that works nationally to reduce the prison population has a website at EllaBakerCenter.org.

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While the chances of dramatically reducing the USA's prison population may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 160 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

Eesha Williams

Dummerston, Jan. 6