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Report Proposes Transitional Housing for Windsor Prison

  • Corrections officers Megan Dole, left, Stacy Boutilier, middle, and Bruce Clark move supplies and equipment from the kitchen to storage on the grounds of the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, Vt., in preparation for its closure, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. "It seems strange to come to work without a uniform and a duty belt," said Clark. "I'm used to carrying handcuffs, not this stuff." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Cabbages still fill a section of garden that yielded 4,000 pounds of produce this year by the labor of inmates at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, Vt., Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. The original dormitory was built in 1916 by warden Ralph Walker who started a farm run by inmates as an experiment on 1,200 acres of state-owned land. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/1/2017 12:09:18 AM
Modified: 11/1/2017 5:10:50 PM

Windsor — A report from the Department of Corrections released on Tuesday estimates it would cost $1.3 million to convert the newly shuttered prison off County Road into a secure transitional housing facility for inmates re-entering the community, and another $6 million in annual operating costs.

The 13-page report examines the population such a facility would serve, explains eligibility requirements and services offered, the renovations needed to the buildings and a proposed budget. The report also offers a list of other possibilities for the prison property, which officially closed on Tuesday.

In addition to renovating 10,500 square feet of space at a cost of $125 per square foot, the report estimates annual operating expenses of $4.9 million and $6.7 million with a midpoint number of $5.8 million. The cost would cover staffing, all operational costs and contracted services, such as medical, programs and vocational opportunities. With 50 to 70 inmates participating in the transitional housing program at any one time, the annual per-capita cost is $58,350, the report said.

There also would be scheduled and deferred maintenance, estimated at $3 million over five years.

Tuesday’s report was submitted to the Joint Justice Oversight Committee by Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Lisa Menard. It was prepared by the administrative service director and finance director of the state DOC and was required under the legislation passed in the last session to close the prison.

The facility would serve four types of inmates: those on the DOC’s lack of housing list; moderate- to high-risk inmates either past their release date or within 90 days of it; those eligible for re-integration furlough; and those who have served a “significant” sentence and are within six months of release.

On average, there are 145 men and nine women being held past their minimum release date each month because of a lack of housing, according to the report.

“Inmates held past their minimum sentence for lack of housing comprise 11 percent of the prison population,” the report said.

Another population could be Vermont residents who are serving federal sentences and are eligible for a residential re-entry center.

“The (Federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP) is interested in housing 20-30 inmates. These offenders spend the last six months of their sentences at a RRC prior to release,” the report said.

The report said a contract with BOP could bring in $1 million to offset operational costs.

Each inmate would develop a transition and re-entry plan with a caseworker. That plan would address employment, educational services, financial responsibilities and other programs. Mental health or substance abuse needs would be addressed outside of the facility. Options for employment include work crews, on-site training and jobs in the community. Shuttle bus transportation to employment and other services would be provided.

The report’s last page includes a list of 10 other possible uses for the facility, including as a new home for the DOC Corrections Academy, currently in Lyndonville, Vt.; a program site for inmates at the prison in Springfield, Vt.; a residential substance use treatment facility (not operated by DOC); a privately owned recreation area; and an agricultural campus operated by not-for-profit organizations. Former state Rep. Donna Sweaney, a University of Vermont board member, suggested that the board consider adding the Windsor property to UVM for use as a teaching farm. Another alternative is to demolish the building and prepare the site for sale.

“The main concern of the town is that the facility not remain empty without being fully decommissioned,” the report said. “If the facility does not reopen as a secure transitional re-entry facility, the town manager (Tom Marsh) suggested that all the buildings be demolished to make the property more appealing to a potential buyer. None of the buildings on the property have a historical designation limiting their destruction.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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