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Congressional delegation urges BOP to establish residential reentry center for Vermont’s federal prison inmates

14 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Vermont’s congressional delegation urges the BOP to build a residential reentry center for individuals transitioning out of federal prisons.

Congressional delegation urges BOP to establish residential reentry center for Vermont’s federal prison inmates - Inmate Lookup

To assist those leaving the federal prison system, the congressional delegation of Vermont is persuading the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to open a residential reentry center in the state.

The letter was written to BOP Director Colette Peters on Tuesday, at a time when it seems the agency is abandoning its plans to construct a residential reentry center (RRC) in Burlington.

Being one of two states without an RRC, Vermont faces a shortage of local resources for individuals in the federal prison system. The delegation conveyed in their letter to Peters that this scarcity has adversely affected both Vermont prisoners and constituents, subjecting them to the collateral consequences of limited reentry and treatment options.

The envisioned facility would provide a residence for individuals transitioning from federal prison to the community, offering access to substance use and mental health treatment, as well as employment assistance and housing. RRCs are sometimes used for individuals awaiting trial instead of undergoing incarceration.

Sen. Peter Welch’s office estimates that an effective reentry facility in Vermont would likely require 10 to 20 beds. In a Senate Judiciary hearing in September, Sen. Welch questioned BOP Director Peters, who stated that the department intended to establish an RRC in Vermont.

However, an October 11 request for proposals from the Bureau of Prisons outlines the establishment of a day reporting center instead of a residential reentry center. Day reporting centers are non-residential facilities that aid parolees in reintegrating into the community.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson, Scott Taylor, clarified in an email that the department plans to build a day reporting center, emphasizing that it offers the same services as a residential reentry center but does not provide housing. Taylor noted that the non-residential center assists with employment and programming while ensuring community accountability.

According to Chief U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford, support for building an RRC in Vermont extends to the federal criminal justice system.

In a letter to BOP Director Peters, Judge Crawford expressed the significance of opening an RRC in Vermont.

Currently, Vermont residents qualifying for RRC programs must travel to locations like New Hampshire, Boston, or New York, disrupting pro-social activities crucial for returning to normal life.

Judge Crawford highlighted the negative impact on defendants, who are lodged out-of-state for six months, contributing to a high rate of violations and return to prison.