John Klar: Are Vermont’s inmates victims of systemic racism, or are they just guilty?

By John Klar

Eight men have recently been charged with very serious drug and firearm charges in Vermont: all from the Hartford, Connecticut area. These cases highlight the dangerous trade in drugs for guns. They also demonstrate that Vermont is not incarcerating people of color because of systemic racism, but in response to a very deadly opioid epidemic.

Opioid fatalities in Vermont increased 33% over the last twelve months, from 82 as of September 2019 to 109 at September 2020. Alarming also is the increase in emergent care for opioid overdose as of Nov. 10 compared to the average rate over the last three years, suggesting the spike in overdoses is not an aberration. Whether or not COVID is increasing addiction or overdose fatalities, the drugs are flowing, and fentanyl is involved in most deaths.

John Klar

There were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2018, more than 760,000 since 1999. The four waves of the crisis have been prescription medications, heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. To literally compound the problem, disturbing trends reveal that polysubstance use (combining drugs) is increasing, which exponentially complicates treatment, especially due to the lack of comparable treatment tools for stimulants. Methamphetamine-associated deaths increased 20-30% in 2018.

There has been much criticism of Vermont’s judicial system in recent years because of the increased number of minority inmates in Vermont prisons. Yet this escalation coincided with these waves of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine trafficking: the dozens of crimes reported by out-of-state perpetrators suggest the spike in incarcerations has resulted directly from increased apprehension of guilty offenders who travel to Vermont to sell drugs, not because Vermont’s entire criminal justice system targets people of color. That contention is more than insulting — it benefits illicit crime, undermines honest police, and puts Vermont residents of all colors at greater risk of addiction and overdose.

Witness the eight just arrested. The five Newport suspects were allegedly involved with drugs and guns (one was shot!). The three in Rutland were charged with an “assortment of heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine offenses,” and possessed firearms and cash. All three have criminal histories: Rashane Wedderburn for two counts of risk of injury to a child and other charges; Cedano Brownswell for 3.1 ounces of crack cocaine and a handgun (shots fired ); Ralph Mariani, who was also shot in the stomach in an apparent assassination attempt at a Hartford hotel in 2017.

Vermont is declaimed as having “the highest rate of incarceration of blacks in the country” (1 in 14), even though it has one of the lowest overall incarceration rates. These studies do not account for out-of-state origin of inmates. Thus, the numerator in these statistics is artificially inflated for the hordes of Hartford denizens who commute to the Green Mountains to sell drugs and buy guns.

Consider Torey SmithChyquan Cupe; Pedro Ocasio; Luis Lupa and Edwin Martinez. In one Rutland case, 6 of 16 named defendants in a drug round-up were from out-of-state. Most of these were “people of color.” The arrests discussed in this essay alone would collectively skyrocket Vermont’s statistical rate of incarceration of blacks relative to its population. This has zero to do with deliberate racism from our law enforcement. To strain incarceration data to reach that conclusion is itself a criminal travesty — a travesty very warmly embraced by Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, who has condemned his own police rather than investigate where these convicted felons originated.

The Vermont ACLU rails: “Vermont has some of the worst prison racial disparities in the country … This imbalance starts from initial law enforcement contact and continues through subsequent stages, such as pretrial detention, conviction, sentencing, and post-release opportunity. … Vermont needs to invest in identifying the sources of racial disparities if we are going to fulfill our commitment to ending them.”

What is happening is that drug dealers find Vermont alluring, not that Vermont authorities are victimizing blacks.

Ben & Jerry are experts on both ice cream and black incarceration, and are proponents of our new “post-racial era.” They offer awareness at their website like: “Vermont is very white. And yet, somehow Vermont has the highest incarceration rate for Black men in the entire country. … The rate of incarceration for Black men and women is awful, but it’s slightly better than it was a few years ago.”

If “guilt of crime” were a factor, perhaps Ben and Jerry would recognize that they are employing ice cream profits to underwrite fentanyl traffickers. White kids aren’t transporting heroin from Connecticut suburbs: mostly black kids are, from the inner city.

Some would institute statistical quotas for black inmates — the numbers must match underlying Vermont population demographics regardless of guilt, even if those charged with crimes arrived from different states with dramatically different demographics. That would be quite a justice system, wouldn’t it? And yes, folks, that’s precisely what is being implemented in Vermont’s “post-racial era.”

Mark Hughes of Justice For All VT attributes the black incarceration rates to Vermont’s “culture of denial” — is he in denial of the Hartford pipeline? Would Harriet Tubman have been heroic for smuggling killer drugs north, and interdiction deemed oppressive?

Interstate commerce in narcotics is the true culprit behind Vermont’s racially-imbalanced incarceration rates. Back in 2016, as reported in VTDigger, a study submitted to the Legislature by the Vermont Crime Research Group found “when a defendant had an out-of-state record, regardless of race, it was a driving factor in the decision to incarcerate … [and] anecdotal evidence suggested that out-of-state defendants were strongly influencing sentences. The study, which reviewed the cases of 852 defendants, found that minority defendants were nearly two times more likely to have out-of-state criminal histories than white defendants.”

In 2018, VPR noted: “What The Sentencing Project report doesn’t tell us is where these African-American inmates are from. How many are Vermont residents, versus those arrested while visiting or passing through? That’s the subject of ongoing research — and we’ll get back to it later on.”

It’s time to “get back to it.”

If Vermont wants to get serious about opioid deaths — and racism — it must be honest about where these drugs are coming from, instead of perverting data to tie the hands of law enforcement and malign an entire culture and its legal system. Currently, Vermont’s stupefying ignorance is like a beacon to the Hartford gangsters: they will keep on coming — laughing all the way — until Vermonters are “woke.”

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.

Image courtesy of Josh Estey/AusAID/Wikimedia Commons

24 thoughts on “John Klar: Are Vermont’s inmates victims of systemic racism, or are they just guilty?

  1. The facts and truth above are completely different than what the so called “News Media” tells you.
    If it wasn’t for John informing us of this info where else would we get it????
    Thanks John

  2. TNR readers: Please be respectful of others and stay on topic using brief comments. Some commenters here at TNR are getting off topic and attacking each other. Please use the comments section to post on-topic comments, and please consider using your email for personal disputes. Thanks.

  3. One thing that seems missing in the data (and this data may not exist at all) what percent of drugs brought into Vermont through this pipeline are brought in by people of color vs whites. If most crimes are committed by black people and most people arrested for crimes are black people then there is not a problem on the enforcement side. There is clearly a different problem but that’s not the point here. If most crimes are committed by whites and most people convicted are black then there is a problem with enforcement. Smart criminals go where they are less likely to be caught. If whites are less likely to be caught in Vermont then we are a prime target for their crimes. Thus a focus (intentional or not) on blacks makes us all more vulnerable to other criminals slipping through.

  4. No one is talking about Victimhood.

    People are steeped for a lifetime of thinking they are nothing but victims of everything under the sun..
    This is their ticket upward.

    So of course these people think they are victims, that’s what they’ve been taught to think.
    And we’ve been taught to listen to them. fall for it, believe this and react to it..


    Anyone with half a brain knows the VICTIMS Advocates are lying threw their teeth to personally gain off other peoples suffering. The real source of the problem is poverty in big cities leading to desperation.

    Change the statistical area to include all of New England and the NYC metro area and the demographics up goes from 99% white Vermonters to maybe 65% white in the northeast ? There is no wall around Vermont and a drug dealer living in a motel for a week doesn’t amount to a Burlington or someplace resident.

    The media giving the SJW’s a soap box and a megaphone is adding to the problem as young people grow up hearing hate speech an many self destruct being raised in this culture. Even the schools add to it by insinuating the kids will be doomed to a life of poverty unless they are real smart and do great in school.

    The media, SJW, education industry & political class are all exploiting the economic suffering in this country and filling young peoples minds with a defeatist mentality. Our young are self destruction from the inner city, to the suburbs, to rural America because of Generation Fail using other peoples suffering to stuff their own pockets.

    social justice warriors

    Colt Firearms
    Hartford CT

    all once in CT.

    Ruger based in Southport, Connecticut with production facilities in Newport, New Hampshire.


      The Winchester’s Plant 10,000 jobs too zero.

      Remington Arms Factory – Bridgeport CT – MAVIC PRO

      Remington Arms Factory – Bridgeport CT – MAVIC PRO


      The Remington Plant

      The world Generation Fail created is now biting them in the butt as their children & grandchildren drop like flies.

      How’s IBM doing in Vermont ? 9000 good jobs and now less than 2000 ?

      The Suffering Industry AKA SJW’s and their enablers are deplorable.

      Whitney Blake Company
      Bellows Falls Vermont

      formerly of Hamden CT
      old plant now the state welfare and unemployment office = irony.
      Welfare office used to be closer to the Winchesters Plant.

      Welcome to the NEW ECONOMY the children needed to get an education for.

      America is eaten up with a bad case of stupid and people taking stupid. It’s the 21st Century, we could have it made if we fired Generation Fail and get our heads out of the sand considering the resources and knowledge we now have. The only thing preventing this society from taking a giant step forward for man kind is Generation Fail clinging to the obsolete and failed status quo so they can stuff their own pockets.

      The pain and suffering isn’t funny but the reason for it and educated idiots reaction too it is funny as hell.

      Time to check the rest of the news and see what Flower Child Professor Ponytail is babbling about, probably save the downtown or some other LSD freak show crap.

  6. Very well written and informative article.
    Seems as though some cannot see that the data is skewed to form a false narrative, as Vermont is far from a racist state.
    It is known by all common sense Vermonters, that the pipeline of drugs are a one way trip from the larger cities via routes 87 and 91.

  7. It’s actually simple to have perfect racial equity in prison populations.
    Lets say that 10% of Vt are ‘of color”
    Lets say these 5 ‘of color” from Hartford Cn. are caught selling drugs
    Just put these 5 in jail for an appropriate length of time, and….
    in the meantime just round up 50 white people, regardless of any crime,
    and put them in prison for the same length as those “of color”.
    Everything is equal, and by the quota system.

    We Make sure criminals of color don’t feel picked on or discriminated against.

  8. Let’s see if it looks like a skunk, smells like a skunk it’s probably a skunk,
    this same logic goes for criminals, we just aren’t locking innocent people
    like some would want you to believe.

    The only thing systemic, are criminals coming here from the big cities !!

    • There is hope. If they vote to defund the police in Portland, OR., the criminals will be leaving VT going to OR.

  9. Let’s not have such short memories…

    John Klar voted for Obama twice… He voted for Clinton… He supports bernie sanders…

    And he voted for Phil Scott twice and encouraged everyone to vote for Phil Scott the third time..

    Phil Scott voted for Joe Biden!

    It is time we investigate everyone who runs for political office in the state of vermont and not trust any of them.

    John klar once said it was his understanding that I was thrown out of the republican party…

    It is my understanding that John klar was never a member of the republican party and never will be..

    Remember people in vermont trusted bernie sanders and they also trusted Phil Scott…

    Come on republicans wake up we need a real republican to run for governor….

    I hope everybody’s paying attention we are in deep doo doo in the state of vermont.

    • Give it up, please. Either dispute his facts or stew in your own juice. John Klar has pointed out the hypocrisy of the systematic racism crap and the white racist BS in Vermont. Anyone who follows the local news can see with both eyes who is being arrested and why. So John Klar voted for Obama twice. He wasn’t the only one to make that mistake and you probably voted for King Phillip before he turned his back on the people who got him elected. We all make mistakes and we learn from them, at least most of us.

      • I don’t know John Klar Dano, but I saw his sign way the heck over here in NH when he was running. So I give him credit for spreading a wide net.

        The one thing I’ll say is that at least he’s standing up and trying to do something.

        • I only know John Klar from his writings and campaign and you are correct. He speaks to the injustices of the social justice warriors who are using a false narrative to bolster their own bank accounts. It is those same people and organizations that are supported by hand wringing liberals not originally from Vermont who stir the pot and twist the facts to create their own lies. I personally know one of them mentioned in the article who has failed at everything except being a social justice warrior because of the ignorance and virtue signaling of the so called elites who have come here to destroy our state. We have less than 1 percent people of color and those in our jails are not Vermonters. It’s the same lawless crowd that wants to defund the police and disarm Vermonters so they will have total control over the people. Our voters here are either brainwashed, ignorant, stupid or too afraid to resist. All brought to them by a media owned, censored and paid for by liberals.

          • The most important thing for you all to remember is that they don’t tell you what is real, they tell you what they want you to think is real.

            This is the case with the news, with their polling, with their “science”, with everything they do. This is why what you hear and see on the news looks nothing like what we all see going on all around us.. it’s not real that’s why.
            They live in a fantasyland and they create their own pseudoscience and cherry pick from everything there is out there to try and justify their cockamamie world view. Then this stuff is what they all use to try and create jobs programs that grow government=power and an economy off of. (like solar panels and windmills)
            This is why 40% of your people there work for the gubbamint, they’ve been very successful at this in Vermont, this happened because you all were looking at the dust cloud and not what they were up to within it.

            Once you understand this, a whole lot makes sense.

            No one up here is thinking about the colors of peoples skin because all we see every day is one color.
            What we are thinking about is kids, food, firewood, keeping the truck running and if we can pay the mortgage, and this is about it.

            We want criminals in jail and we don’t care what color they are.
            They made the choice when they committed the crime.
            None of it is really that hard.

            They seek to create chaos everywhere they go because a whole of money making and graft can go on within chaos. That is what this entire narrative is attempting to do, kick up a dust storm.
            This is all part of the Soros funded Color Revolution, look that up.

            Notice the article that says Vermont gets the third worst financial transparency in the country?
            Well this right here is how that happened.. and that score is a success for them!
            They create a big dust cloud with non-stop social justice warriorism and look at what they can get done within the cover of that duststorm, a whole lot of robbing of the people!

            You all have to learn the game so you can beat them at it.

            Here is a little something to learn about this Color Revolution they’ve launched upon us.

          • You are exactly right! So how do we take VT back is my question. We use dominion voting machines here I don’t even trust my vote counted.
            So what is the game plan bc voting them out or in is the lessor of the two evils.
            We have an establishment right here in VT of professional politicians.
            I read the color revolution article a while back and that’s exactly what’s going on all over!

        • Voted for Obama – twice. Only contribution to this site is abject hatred for John Klar and similarly Keith Stern. Since you hate so many conservative candidates why not get off dead backside and run yourself. For all the trouble you and rest of your club caused – was glad to see Hoyt and partner lost their bids – karma bites but many thanks for showing dark side of the conservative landscape in VT.

    • Richard, I am sorry you are still suffering mentally. Truly. I’m not being mean — everyone here can see it. I worked, and ran, for YOU — yet you attack me with nonsense. Here are two thoughts for you: 1) can you comprehend the article, and the facts it offers? Try pretending someone else wrote it and then see if you can absorb it. If John Klar writes “2 + 2 = 4”, can you assess the merits of that concept without dismissing it because it came from me? I ask Vermonters to look at the facts of arrests in their communities and ask themselves if they think our police are intentionally targeting drug dealers — THAT is the question here, not my loyalty to Richard Ley’s political litmus test. Richard, the election is over — I’m not running for office anymore, so you can stand down. 2) It is not “my understanding” that you were thrown out of your local GOP: it’s a fact, right Richard? And would anyone be surprised why, as you are a disruptive, rude saboteur? As to your “understanding” that I’m not a member of the VT GOP and never will be, my monthly payment to the Party just cleared my account — did yours? Richard, please contribute to the conversation about race and opioids in Vermont: do you have something to say that is relevant to that? I will continue to pray that your toxicity and delusions subside. Sincerely.

      • The litmus test should be… you put country before political party.

        It’s amazing how many times people say the same diatribe over and over, never discussing the facts, but attacking the person.

        Hell I voted for George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr……don’t I feel ignorant, they are both new world order pimps with daddy being the founder of this mess. While I did vote for others in primary…

        John, you were the breath of fresh air in our VT GOP.

        We should be standing, all americans against propaganda lies for this racial quota, one thing they never publish about this now is the desparity between men and women with regard to incarceration and arrests. That’s because what 80% of men are the ones committing crimes? With their same logic we need to be arresting way more women or letting all the guilty men run free.

        Seems the Vermont State police are more sexist than racist. Who knew?

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