Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Delegation pushes Bureau of Prisons to open Vermont’s first federal prison reentry center

Three people from three photographs sitting side by side.
Sophie Stephens
From right to left images courtesy of: Associated Press, Vermont Public, Associated Press
 In a letter this week, all three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation asked the director of the Bureau of Prisons to open a residential reentry program in Vermont.

Vermont’s congressional delegation is urging the Bureau of Prisons to build a facility in the state that will support people transitioning out of the federal prisons system.

The letter, sent on Tuesday to BOP Director Colette Peters, comes as the department appears to have backed away from a plan to build a residential reentry center (RRC) in Burlington.

Vermont is one of two states in the country without an RRC, also known as a halfway house.

“The lack of local resources for Vermonters involved in the federal prison system has detrimentally impacted not only those involved, but all of our constituents who suffer the collateral consequences of the dearth of reentry and treatment options,” the delegation wrote in their letter to Peters.

The facility would give people a place to stay as they transition from federal prison back to the community, including access to substance use and mental health treatment and housing and employment assistance. People awaiting trial are also sometimes placed at an RRCs instead of being incarcerated.

A reentry facility in Vermont would likely need 10 to 20 beds, according to Sen. Peter Welch’s office.

During a Senate Judiciary hearing in September, BOP Director Peters, when asked by Sen. Welch, said the department planned to establish an RRC in Vermont.

“As of yesterday, hot off the press, I have good news to report,” Peters said during the Sept. 13 hearing. “We have issued an RFP for Burlington, Vermont, to try and get a residential reentry center in your state.”

But a request for proposals issued on Oct. 11 by the Bureau of Prisons calls for establishing a day reporting center — not a residential reentry center. A day reporting center is a non-residential facility that helps people on parole reintegrate into the community. There aren’t any current RFPs issued for a residential reentry center in Burlington.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons in an email said the department plans to build a day reporting center and that a DRC provides to same services as a residential reentry center, except it doesn't house people.

"This non-residential center provides assistance with employment and programming while ensuring accountability of the residents in the community," said Scott Taylor, a BOP spokesperson, in an email.

Building an RRC in Vermont has support from others in the federal criminal justice system — including the top federal judge in Vermont.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford, in a letter on Tuesday to BOP Director Peters, wrote that opening an RRC in Vermont would be “significant.”

Currently, Vermont residents who qualify for RRC programs must travel to Boston, New York or New Hampshire, Crawford wrote in the letter, which was reviewed by Vermont Public.

“The out-of-state location interferes with every pro-social activity necessary to return to normal life,” Crawford said in the letter. “Instead of getting to work on these important goals, our defendants are lodged out-of-state for six months. Unsurprisingly, the rate of violation and discharge back to prison is high.”

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


Updated: December 13, 2023 at 4:53 PM EST
This story has been updated to included a comment from the Bureau of Prisons.
Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
Latest Stories