Where will they go? Vermont scrambles to find housing for violent juvenile offenders

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - State leaders are working on a plan to house Vermont’s youngest violent offenders.

It’s been 10 days since lawmakers told the Scott administration to come up with a plan to house those offenders.

Since the closure of the Woodside detention facility several years ago, the state has been working to find a space for violent young offenders. Last year, there were just seven of them.

A proposed facility in Newbury is currently being appealed in environmental court.

Late last week, top Scott administration officials met with lawmakers.

The state has one bed at the Windham County Sheriff’s Office that they use to house offenders. And they’re bringing another two beds online in the coming weeks.

If offenders under 18 are charged with extremely serious crimes, the state can house them within the Department of Corrections. But they have to be totally separated from the adult offender population. There are no kids in correctional facilities currently.

The Department for Children and Families is working on a report to lawmakers that will outline a medium- and long-term strategy on how to deal with young offenders. That report is due on Dec. 1.

The exact details are unclear, but it’s important to note that any new facilities will be rehab- and treatment-oriented, and that offenders must receive wraparound services while they are there.

The whole reason Woodside was torn down in the first place was to provide therapeutic community-based treatments, so the state will also be looking to programs in other states as a model, as well.

As I mentioned, the Newbury facility is being appealed in environmental court. It has been about three months since the state filed its appeal. I’m told we could see a decision any day now.

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