Dropped Murder Charges Prompt Lawmakers to Assess Mental Health System’s Role in Public Safety

A prosecutor’s decision last month to drop three high-profile criminal cases in Chittenden County has prompted a legislative review of the state’s justice system.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said she dropped two murder charges, and one charge of attempted murder, because she was unable to prove the defendants weren’t legally insane when they committed the crimes.

The controversial decision reignited a long-running debate about how Vermont handles mentally ill offenders.
Next week, the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee will meet in Montpelier to discuss the implications of the Chittenden County dismissals.

Springfield Rep. Alice Emmons, a member of the committee, says George’s decision has spotlighted the role the Department of Mental Health needs to play in preserving public safety.

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