The Caledonia Community Work Camp facility in St. Johnsbury is preparing for some new guests.

The twin bunkhouses next to Northeast Regional Correctional Facility on Route 5 are now empty but the Department of Corrections (DOC) is planning to transfer ten inmates to the work camp who are returning to Vermont after serving sentences at an out-of-state correctional facility.

The transferring inmates will be under a two-week quarantine at the work camp to comply with COVID-19 guidelines set by the state which mandate quarantines for anyone entering Vermont following an extended stay out-of-state.

None of the transferring inmates are COVID-19 positive.

“These inmates are returning for a variety of reasons to include release planning, programming needs or they’ve maxed-out their sentences,” said DOC Faculties Executive Al Cormier Wednesday. “They will remain in St. Johnsbury for a 14 day quarantine period. During that time they will be tested and then moved to other facilities within the DOC.”

The inmates will be tested for COVID-19 after seven days of quarantine.

If any of the inmates test positive for the virus they will be sent to the COVID-19 surge site set-up across the parking lot at Northeast Regional Correctional Facility. The surge site currently has no inmates isolated in the so-called “hot zone” unit for COVID-19 positive prisoners.

All of the surge site inmates have since recovered and most have been transferred back to the state prison in St. Albans where they had been housed prior to the coronavirus outbreak. A few remain in the surge site recovery unit, but DOC officials say they will be returning to St. Albans by the end of this week.

The ten minimum security inmates coming to St. Johnsbury are currently being housed at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi. There are currently 246 Vermont inmates being housed in Mississippi for a variety of reasons including sentence length.

St. Johnsbury Town Manager Chad Whitehead said he has been informed by corrections officials of the transfer of Mississippi inmates and that it appears the inmates are eligible to stay at the work camp under the terms of the town’s operating agreement with the DOC.

“My understanding is that those inmates are not COVID-19 positive and they are eligible to be housed in the facility in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” said Whitehead.

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