Bed Bugs Discovery Forces Inmates From Work Camp

The entrance to Caledonia Community Work Camp at the Northeast Regional Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury in January 2018. (File Photo By Todd Wellington)

Bed bugs were discovered at the St. Johnsbury Community Work Camp forcing the temporary re-location of 45 inmates.

According to the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), the discovery came last month after several work camp inmates complained about being bitten by bed bugs.

“Staff discovered several live bed bugs upon close inspection of the living area on Sept. 25, 2019,” wrote Vermont Commissioner of Corrections Mike Touchette in an email response to questions on Wednesday. “Forty-five inmates have been temporarily relocated to the Springfield facility gymnasium and another twelve to the St. Johnsbury Regional Facility gymnasium.”

The gymnasium is adjacent to the work camp at Northeast Regional Correctional Facility on Route 5 in St. Johnsbury.

“All remediation is now complete and the temporarily-moved population will be back at the facility by the end of the day,” said Touchette on Wednesday. “To prevent expansion or contamination of unaffected populations, the relocated inmates will not be in contact with other inmates in the temporary locations.”

Touchette said that when DOC learned of the infestation it responded by working closely with the Vermont Department of Health and Department of Buildings and General Services to develop and implement a bed bug “mitigation and eradication plan.”

The affected areas were addressed with heat treatments and insecticide applications, said officials.

Touchette said facility staff and the inmate population have been provided with information about the signs, symptoms, control and prevention of bed bug infestation.

“Inmates from the affected units who were scheduled for release into the community were prioritized for review and mitigation, including laundering all property pursuant to treatment specifications and providing physical examinations by health care professionals prior to their return to the community,” said Touchette.

The work camp provides crews free of charge to the town of St. Johnsbury for services such as general labor, painting, brush cutting and snow removal by offenders who can earn so-called “good time” off their sentences while living and working outside the main prison facility.

The work camp also houses sex offenders from Caledonia County.

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