Vermont Ends Contract with Greenfield, MA Prison

A year after Vermont inmates housed at a Greenfield, Massachusetts jail rioted over conditions there, Vermont has discontinued its contract with that state to hold its prisoners.

Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan says the writing was on the wall for the expiration of the Greenfield jail’s contract with the state of Vermont. He says the number of inmates held at the Greenfield facility has steadily decreased since Vermont prisoners staged a riot last July. He says the incident was a culmination of the inmates’ frequent complaints over the jail’s lack of outdoor facilities, no-smoking policy, and ban on physical contact during family visits. Donelan says the Greenfield jail was also frustrated by the kind of inmates it received from Vermont.

“We were trying to really narrow down the population that we held to people who were closer to release date so that we could do reintegration work with them,” he says. “And what continually happened was we had this incredible mix, where we would have some inmates within a year of release, and some inmates that had 25 years left on their sentence, and that made it a very difficult population for us to work with.”

Donelan says Greenfield has replaced its Vermont contract with a federal government contract to hold immigration detainees. He says the facility currently holds 72 detainees, and the federal government pays nearly double what Vermont paid the prison to house its inmates.

Donelan says Vermont houses inmates in out-of-state jails because it has more inmates than its prisons can hold. In a statement, Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito said the state’s out-of-state prisoners are now held at private jails in Kentucky and Arizona. Both of those facilities are operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.