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State Hopes To Close Out-Of-State Prison Program

Vermont is committed to bringing home all prison inmates held in controversial, private out-of-state facilities, the state’s top corrections official said Thursday.

The Department of Corrections recently entered into a two-year, $30 million contract with GEO Group to house inmates in the company’s Michigan facility. But Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said the state is making progress toward the goal of ending the out-of-state placements.

“In the end, our goal is still to close the out-of-state program,” Pallito said on Vermont Edition Thursday. “We've made that as kind of an underscore for the entire Shumlin administration. You started to hear it late in the Douglas administration. That's still our goal, but we still have a presence of nearly 300 individuals, so we're trying to find the most safe, secure environment that fits that population for the time being.”

Out-of-state inmates have been housed in facilities owned by the Corrections Corporation of America in Arizona and Kentucky, but will be transferred to Michigan under the new contract.

Pallito said the number of out-of-state inmates has come down since last July, from 484 to 299 as of Thursday.