- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Department of Corrections is seeking bids to house about 500 prison inmates who are now serving their sentences in Kentucky and Arizona.

The current four-year contract with the Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America is going to expire next July and Vermont does not have the prison capacity to bring those inmates back to the state.

Bids for a new contract with the Vermont Corrections Department are due next month.

Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said there are about 100,000 prison beds available across the country and Vermont only needs between 400 and 600, so the state isn’t in a position to be able to dictate the details of any contract.

“So we’re a little bit at the mercy of the bidders,” Pallito tells Vermont Public Radio (https://bit.ly/1u60N2a).

For almost two decades Vermont has sent hundreds of inmates to prisons and jails in a number of other states, some public and some private. It costs Vermont about half as much to house in inmate out-of-state than it does in the state’s prisons.

Housing Vermont inmates in other states has been criticized by some because it separates the inmates from their family members, considered a key to successful rehabilitation.

Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio said changes in prison sentencing practices has ensured inmates spend more time in prison, making it impossible to reduce the prison population enough to bring more inmates home.

“If you want to reduce the prison population, you have to put more people out than you’re putting in,” Valerio said.

Pallito said it’s unlikely any new contract will be close to Vermont.

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Information from: WVPS-FM, https://www.vpr.net


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