DOC ties loose ends about St. J inmates

ST. JOHNSBURY - The peak of COVID-19 has brought many state institutions into rather uncommon territory to say the least, when it comes to how they handle certain procedures so that every resident can remain healthy and out of harm's way. One of these institutions is the Vermont Department of Corrections. 

DOC representatives have stated that new details have been added to the original plan of what to do with prisoners that have tested positive for COVID-19. The plan states that the prison in St. Johnsbury will be used as a "surge" facility. According to the DOJ they are "carefully monitoring the spread of the virus and have made preparations for a surge location". In addition, if any of the prisoners contact the virus and become ill, they would not be sent to NVRH but rather the UVM Medical Center. However, the plan was also to move 65 inmates from the St. Johnsbury corrections complex and relocate them other facilities across the state of Vermont. But according to Joe Benning, "25 of the original unifected inmates where never removed." 

This confusion and misunderstanding was cleared up at the St. Johnsbury board meeting Monday evening, where James Baker, the commissioner of corrections, stated that he "was making an assumtpion" to who exactly left the facility. He also stated that "we did not expect the surge to happened as quickly as it did."  To alleviate the concern of any risk to the community through staff members leaving into the public, from the facility that has positive COVID-19 inmates, Al Cormier, the director of correctional facilities stated that, "there is no cross contamination" and that proper sanitation measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

Earlier today at a press conference with Governer Scott, Secratary Smith stated that, "we have done a compassionate and thorough job" speaking to any concerns of human rights being potentially broken in Vermont prisions. The Secratary also mentioned inmates will not be realesed despite age, as some are violent offenders. This all started after 28 inmates in Swanton tested positive for the virus, the state came up with a plan to use surge sites. Correctional facilities across the state do remain on modified lockdown and prisoners along with staff members need to wear masks in compliance with the CDC guidelines.