It was recently reported that Governor Phil Scott’s administration wants to close the Woodside Juvenile Facility, the only one of its kind in the state because the 30-bed building was empty for the first time ever.

The closing of Woodside as a solution to juvenile justice is a nothing put to hollow explaining words, a way to hide the problem that is another example of a failed criminal justice system. The policymakers have no clue! Close Woodside Juvenile Facility because it’s not used is a scripted way to justify their liberal approach to justice. The same tactic for supposedly proving the facility is no longer needed, was done to Windsor Prison and the other facilities mentioned below.

There will be no justice here for victims or the perpetrators. No accountability regardless the pain and loss. Instead of closing mental health and correctional facilities, we should be building more of them. The public safety demands it, the victims deserve it and at the same time with properly run facilities and programs, the perpetrators can be given a chance to turn their lives around, but if they choose not to then they at least are kept from hurting others.

Forty or so years ago, Vermont, in the most tragic chapters in our criminal justice & mental health history, chose to close Windsor State Prison, Brandon Training School & the Weeks School. Later, even before the flood, the state hospital in Waterbury was also closed. We threw away these tried and true facilities to move into an untested area of community corrections and community mental health that proved to be major failures. Now we want to do it again! Such small-minded thinking should be a red flag for Governor Scott who should review the past before he repeats the mistakes once more.

Bob Orleck

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