According to an article from Todd Wellington this week, “a Department of Corrections request to allow sex offenders from outside the county to be housed at the Caledonia County Work Camp was dead on arrival at the St. Johnsbury Select Board meeting Monday night.”
This was the second time in 2019 the Department of Corrections asked St. Johnsbury to increase the number of sex offenders at the local work camp.
None of the St. Johnsbury select board members agreed to the expansion. For that we’re grateful.
Back in June Wellington reported on the disproportionate burden the Department of Corrections puts on NEK towns. In June, for instance, there were 118 offenders being “supervised” on the streets of St. Johnsbury (population 7,209) by the Department of Corrections. Greater Newport (pop. 6,156) had 132 “supervised” offenders running around.
Compare that to glitzy South Burlington (pop. 19,141) where there were 83 offenders. Like STJ and Newport, South Burlington also hosts a state prison.
What about non-prison towns? Lyndon (pop. 7,057) had 74 offenders while Shelburne (pop. 7,730) had 16. Williston (pop. 9,637) had 40 and Essex (pop. 21,519) had 31.
The Department of Corrections likes to say they try to supervise “offenders” in the communities from whence they came. But that’s total BS.
Back in January DOC official Al Cormier told St. Johnsbury selectmen that the DOC “policy” requires the release of inmates back to their home communities. At the time time he was fighting to increase the number of out-of-area sex offenders housed in the Caledonia County Work Camp on Route 5.
“They’ll still be released to the town where they were sentenced from …” Cormier guaranteed.
Then in May we watched the DOC release sex offender Andrew Martin, 46, into St. Johnsbury after he served five years for the repeated sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. Martin is from Hardwick.
So why wasn’t he returned to the town that sent him?
“He has no residency condition of probation,” confirmed St. Johnsbury Community Corrections District Manager Lynn Bushey at the time. “We can’t tell him where he can live.”
Nobody came to speak on behalf of the DOC during this week’s select board meeting. Town Manager Chad Whitehead said he was surprised nobody showed.
Oftentimes when someone from the DOC goes on record, we later prove they lied. We’re glad the select board is finally hip to the hustle and the destructive influence the DOC has on the poor towns cursed to house their prisons.