Legislature using budget bill to save St Johnsbury prison

first_imgThe Legislature has included in the state budget language intended to keep open the prison in St Johnsbury. Among the Douglas Administration’s budget reduction proposals was closing the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility and laying off most of the employees. The inmates likely would be sent to prisons out of state. It costs the state less to pay another state to house inmates than to incarcerate them in Vermont. The House and Senate Appropriations Conference Committee included language that would require the governor to get legislative approval before he could close the prison. The prison in St Johnsbury is a vital part of our economy in the Northeast Kingdom, which is why I worked closely with the conference committee to make sure this language was included in the budget, said Representative Robert South, D-St. Johnsbury.  Our region is one of the hardest hit by the current economic crisis and it s critical the state do everything it can to keep Vermonters working, our businesses open and our communities vibrant.The budget language stipulates that the Douglas Administration cannot close or significantly reduce operations at the St Johnsbury facility without approval from both the legislative Joint Corrections Oversight Committee and the Joint Fiscal Committee. The Northeast Kingdom has among the highest unemployment rates in the state already, said Representative Lucy Leriche, D-Hardwick. With so many families in the region relying on jobs at the prison and so many local businesses counting on the facilities positive impact on our local economies, I am happy to follow Rep. South s lead fighting for these jobs.The House is expected to take the final vote on the budget on Saturday.last_img

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