Two communities nix prison work camp proposal

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(Host) This week, voters in two Vermont communities turned thumbs down to a proposal to play host to a prison work camp.

The Corrections Department says several other towns have shown an interest in the camp, but its too early to tell if voters there will feel any different.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Tuesday, voters in Swanton and Springfield weighed the benefits of hosting a work camp: including the creation of more than forty jobs against concerns over public safety and they rejected the idea.

It’s the second time the work camp has been turned down in Swanton.

In presenting the proposal to voters, Corrections Department officials had stressed that only non-violent offenders are housed at work camps.

Saint Johnsbury officials offered positive assessments of their experiences with the state’s only existing work camp in their town.

But voters were unmoved.

(Peebles) “I think it was a really good process. Disappointing? Of course.”

(Zind) Dave Peebles of the Department of Corrections says despite the outcome, he thinks the process worked well.

Peebles says the state will now explore locating a work camp in one of the four other towns that have expressed initial interest in the work camp. They are Randolph, Northfield, Fair Haven and Wolcott.

(Peebles) “We need to revisit with those folks and take a look at what their level of interest is and what’s available in terms of the site.”

(Zind) Fair Haven officials say they’ve held one informational meeting on the work camp and public response was mixed.

In Randolph, a petition is circulating opposing the work camp.

The state is hoping to have a site to present to the legislature in January, but its unlikely now that that will happen.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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