State: towns unwilling to host youth detention facility

By Guy Page

With the latest proposal for a secure facility for youthful offenders now at a standoff and headed to the Supreme Court, the State of Vermont is still lacking but looking for a safe place to house young offenders.

The State of Vermont has been pushing hard for a secure facility in Newbury. Local officials are upset that the state officials characterizes it as a ‘group home’ and are hesitant to use the word ‘detention.’ 

Both the Newbury plan and its backers underplaying the risk of housing violent offenders has drawn criticism in the Senate. 

On May 5, Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) wrote a letter to Gov. Phil Scott asking him to drop the plans.

At an April 11 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, chair Sen. Richard Sears – himself a social worker with youth – took exception to state officials’ well-intentioned resistance to thinking of youth in terms of detention and incarceration.

“When they start hitting staff with frying plans, they’re violent, and that’s the problem,” Sears said. “Right now we don’t have anything at the top of the system to hold those violent youths.”

Neither Newbury nor the State are giving in. An initial Vermont Supreme Court hearing has been scheduled for May 23. 

The State is working on a couple of options to ‘stabilize’ young lawbreakers who ‘need a time out,’ Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson said at Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference today. But ever since the Woodside facility closed almost three years ago under pressure from the federal government, Vermont has had no permanent, secure place to put dangerous, lawbreaking youth – a situation highlighted by the recent case of Tashawn Ware, 18 of Brooklyn, NY. When it appeared that a Vermont criminal judge might free the alleged aggravated assailant, robber and drug user for lack of a place to put him, the federal authorities arrested him. 

VDC asked Gov. Phil Scott this question at his press conference today:

“Governor, Mike Donoghue reported today that Judge Alison Arms was considering releasing an 18 year old accused of armed robbery and drug possession, saying it’s not her fault that the state doesn’t have a secure youth facility. The Town of Newbury now has the support of Sen. Jane Kitchel in its opposition to the state plan to open a facility there. When and where can Vermonters expect a secure facility for youthful offenders?”

Scott said his administration is working on two initiatives: one in Southwestern Medical Center in Bennington, and the other at the Windham County Sheriff’s Office. He then handed off the question to Samuelson. She clarified that these two options are for ‘stabilization’ only – i.e. somewhere for the youth to hopefully cool off while the state considers its residential options. 

But getting local approval for longterm residential secure housing? As the strenuous pushback to a state plan in Newbury shows, that’s a tough sell to local residents. 

“We continue to try to work with towns across the state,” Samuelson said. The state has asked municipalities to step forward. “No one has,” she said, the frustration evident in her voice. “There always is some reason why it’s not what they want in their yard.”

Categories: Crime

6 replies »

  1. Who can blame these towns??

    Most of these offenders are NOT “Vermonters” – and most of these offenders aren’t particularly youthful anymore either, thanks to the radicalized Democrats in Montpelier who think that anyone under the age of about seventy-five shouldn’t be held responsible for their own actions because their brains aren’t fully developed yet.

    Guess who else’s brains aren’t developed yet, by the way? Our elected officers.

    But the State legislators, politically appointed judges, & its ideologues will be continuing to enable & encourage youth from out-of-state gang members & drug dealers and then claiming that they are “Vermonters” who need “help”.

    I believe the State prerequisite for being termed a “Vermonter” now is that you once tasted maple syrup.

  2. Towns don’t want it with good reason. The state takes advantage of towns and they don’t pay their fair share of taxes. Want proof of that? Look to Windsor where the state still owns the land which was the site of the former prison farm. And Windsor has spoken loud and clear they do NOT want the youth facility. More than 100 years as a prison town was more than enough. Continuing state ownership of the prison farm land prevents development that would benefit the town. Furthermore, small towns like Newbury don’t have the services needed for such a facility. Put it in woke Burlington, a self declared sanctuary city that along with the legislators invited the offenders.

  3. We need mental health facilities and jails!! Closing them was a costly mistake!!

  4. As usual the State wants a new facility. They suck the life out of buildings, perform zero upkeep and maintenance, then abandon and want to build new.

  5. As I recall, the state had a very expensive women’s prison in Waterbury called the Dale facility. The state spent millions on this project then shut it down as too expensive. Seems that rehabilitation in real life is harder than it is on paper. The state wastes money on pie in the sky utopian projects that just never seem to work out. Of course, the highbrow liberals who inhabit the town of Newbury are of the most hypocritical class when it comes to placing anything in their backyard. All Trump haters and Biden supporters live in the land of Oz, Newbury, Vermont.

  6. Woodside in Essex was originally built and celebrated as a model facility for housing out-of-control yoots. It was suitably located not directly near private residences. What was one of the reasons it was closed?.. It was considered “too institutional looking and not homey enough”. It still sits there. Why not put up some nice tapestries, install a yoga studio and USE IT for it’s intended purpose?