NEFAC Calls for Vermont Victim Compensation Board Hearings to Remain Open to Public

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The New England First Amendment Coalition testified today in support of continued public access to Victim Compensation Board hearings in Vermont. The board decides who receives financial assistance from the state to help with losses resulting from certain crimes.

House Bill 558 would exempt the hearings from the Vermont Open Meeting Law. Much of the information presented at the hearings, however, is already publicly accessible, testified Michael Donoghue, NEFAC’s first vice president, on behalf of the coalition and the Vermont Press Association.

From arraignment through trial, journalists and other members of the public are privy to court documents that detail crimes and who they were committed against, Donoghue said. This type of transparency is crucial to understanding public safety issues and how law enforcement operates. The same level of public access should exist with the Victim Compensation Board as well, he added.

Listen to Donoghue’s testimony here.

NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition frequently testifies about freedom of information concerns in Vermont. Most recently it opposed fees to inspect public records in the state and argued for the timely release of arrest reports from law enforcement agencies.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.