Vermont DOC Seeks Out-of-State Contractor

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Corrections is looking for a new out-of-state contractor to house about 500 inmates that Vermont does not have the capacity to hold.
The state currently has a four-year contract with Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which will expire next July. CCA is currently housing the Vermonters in Kentucky and Arizona, which is not ideal because it puts a rather large distance between inmates and their families.
Because Vermont is a rather small consumer compared to the overall out-of-state market (some 100,000 beds are available), Commissioner of Corrections Andrew Pallito told Vermont Public Radio that he wanted to start the bid process early, hoping to find options for inmates closer to home. He admitted that they are “at the mercy of the bidders,” and it’s unlikely that there will be new cells available in surrounding states.
Vermont first began sending inmates out of state in the mid-1990s because of costs. To house an inmate out of state costs Vermont about half as much per day than to house one in state. While the building of a new prison facility is an obvious solution, the construction costs could total upwards of $100 million, which the department does not have to spend.
The other solution would be for lawmakers to enact policies that would reduce sentences. Defender General Matt Valerio told Vermont Public Radio that over the last couple years there have been more people going into the prison system and staying longer, so until lawmakers make that change, this problem will likely still persist.
Bids for the new out-of-state contract are due on Oct. 23.