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Vermont renews out-of-state prison contract with private company

A sign outside of a prison reads "CoreCivic: Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility"
Rogelio V. Solis
Associated Press File
Vermont has held more than 100 people at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi since 2018.

The Department of Corrections announced Tuesday that it will renew its contract with a private prison company and continue to incarcerate about 120 Vermonters out-of-state.

CoreCivic, the largest private prison company in the country, was the sole bidder for the contract, according to DOC. Vermont has held more than 100 people at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippisince 2018

The two-year contract, with two additional one-year extensions, sets a maximum cost of $21,463,095 for 300 beds. Half of those spaces could be used for incarcerated people who need treatment for opioid addiction, according to DOC.

The department said in a press release on Tuesday the number of Vermonters incarcerated out-of-state is expected to remain around 125 and that there are no plans to "significantly increase" the out-of-state prison population.

Vermont started sending people to out-of-state prisons in the late 1990s due to a lack of space at in-state prisons. In 25 years since the state began that practice, the overall prison population has declined. There are currently 260 fewer people incarcerated today than there were in 2020, according to DOC data.

Criminal justice reform advocates say it’s unclear why the state still needs to incarcerate people out-of-state.

“Why are we doing this after we've reduced the prison population by so much?,” said James Lyall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. “And at what point do we get to stop doing that?”

But DOC officials say the state still lacks adequate capacity to bring the 120 or so Vermonters held out of state back home.

“We have facilities that are pretty antiquated and the space is limited,” said DOC Commissioner Nick Deml on Wednesday. While we've seen a precipitous drop in our prison population, which is great, I think that's a testament to the work the state is invested in justice reform, we remain oversubscribed

Vermont’s prison population is currently around 1,400, and to house everyone in-state the population would need to drop by a few hundred, Deml said.

More fromVermont Edition(2022): Corrections Commissioner Nicholas Deml on the challenges facing Vermont's prisons

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or reach out to reporter Liam Elder-Connors:


Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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