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We think of Vermont as a sort of southern Canada, a land of gorgeous, natural vistas, crisp mountain air, and generous socialist values where nothing ever goes wrong. But it turns out the Green Mountain State, for all its innocent charms, has been involved in some dirty business of late, spending over $14 million last year to ship 470 Vermonters off to barely monitored, for-profit prisons like the Lee Adjustment Center. And yes, that's as bad as it sounds.

The Lee Adjustment Center is owned by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), in rural eastern Kentucky, and like many of the corporation's other human ranches, it has a reputation for maintaining low staffing ratios and for underpaying and under-training its workforce. Mistakes like that are apt to breed high rates of prison violence. Just this week, according to a WCAX report, a Lee inmate had his throat slashed. And the insanity doesn't stop there.

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The thing with shipping prisoners to a facility hundreds of miles away from their homes is that their family members are apt to struggle with visiting. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, can give up on making the trip out because of time and money constraints--- leaving inmates to wallow in depression and their loved ones to wallow in guilt.

The crisis has birthed a grassroots movement to bring Vermont prisoners home called "Restore Our Communities." The campaign is pushing Governor Shumlin to take action, and the sooner it succeeds the better. Vermont journalist Jonathan Levitt reports for Counter Punch that Vermont prisoners who want to rehabilitate---ostensibly the whole point of prison--- will find that hard for as long as they're under CCA care.

In a 2008 memo detailing the cost of Vermont’s for-profit prisons use, newly sworn in Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer wrote,

“Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) does not provide mental health services. […] CCA does not provide services related to sexual abuse, substance abuse, or violent offenders.” According to the memo there’s a laundry list of programing provided here in Vermont facilities which are conspicuously absent from the for-profit prisons. “DOC programs not available through CCA include the Cognitive Self Change program for violent offenders; the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program; Batterers Intervention Program; the Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs; and the Discover Program for those with substance abuse problems.”
Why do states continue to use private prisons and why is Vermont, of all places, involved?

Why do states like Vermont use private prisons?

75%33 votes
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| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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  •  Your poll left out (1+ / 0-)
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    a choice ---- money.  It would cost the state more to provide the rehab services in state, for a relativity low population, even though some prisons may have some of these treatments available.   Because of the lack of industry, VT's taxes are very high - I'm sure there is support for solving this 'problem' for the least amount of money.  

    VT isn't all maple syrup, ice cream and Holsteins.  There are some hard core absolutists there too.  Probably especially embedded in the 'criminal justice' system.  
    Don't forget VT sends a proportionally higher percentage of the population into the military.  And the ones who haven't been blown to bits in Iraq or Afghanistan, might come back with a changed outlook on life.  

    Also VT is next to NH - and there are plenty of hysterical people there in history.  There are people in every state who are unreasonable about certain views - recall some from VT who used to post here.  

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