COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) Young offenders are returning to the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester after two other facilities are deemed unsafe both for the kids and for the staff.
The Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center was chosen as a possible isolation site for COVID-19, but it hasn't been used; even so, the juveniles staying at Woodside were still moved to a different detention facility in St. Albans, which Steve Howard, Executive Director of the Vermont State Employees Association, says was unsuitable.
"The rationale was that the department of mental health needed that facility for Vermonters who were suffering from mental illness who also tested positive for COVID-19," Howard said. "The facility in St. Albans, was woefully inadequate, not secure in the least bit and we had two kids escape."
On Tuesday, Vermont State Police put out an alert that 17-year-old Abdiaziz Abdikadir left the Middlesex facility on foot. As of Friday, they are still looking for him. After moving the juveniles to St. Albans, they moved the youths again to another facility, but Howard says it still lacked in comparison to Woodside.
"So they moved them to Middlesex in what was the secured residential facility," Howard said. "Which was more secure, but not adequate and not secure enough."
Howard says that another juvenile escaped from the Middlesex facility, and they also faced issues with a lack of beds and space.
Howard added that both facilities were not tailored to be detention facilities and it was a lot harder to provide behavioral health needed and also protect staff working at those facilities.
"The State Employees Association has been pretty aggressive the last few weeks, pushing the administration to bring this program back to its original home," Howard said.
Now that Juveniles are back in Woodside, Howard says they'll be going to the House and Senate next Thursday to ask that Woodside be maintained as a Detention facility, he says it has proven to be the best