Springfield residents share crime concerns
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | December 07,2012
Christian Avard / Staff Photo
George McNaughtonof Springfield, left, speaks to Monica Weeber, director of planning for the Department of Corrections and Commissioner Andrew Pallitto about crime concerns in Springfield.
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield residents and community outreach workers participated in a televised meeting Tuesday to voice community concerns about the state Department of Corrections.
The meeting, set up by Vermont Interactive Television and held by the Department of Corrections, was the first of four meetings to take place across the state.
More than a dozen residents, restorative justice workers and Springfield Prison officials attended one of 17 locations to speak on camera about prison issues.
“We’d like to give you a series of things in the future and we’d like comments on them. This is the goal,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito.
George McNaughton of Springfield took advantage of Pallito’s offer. He advised that the state keep its promise with the town of Springfield regarding the prison facility.
In return for hosting the Springfield prison, the state provided the town a number of considerations. The state extended municipal water and sewer to the prison, created an industrial park, rebuilt the Skitchewaug Trail and donated $3 million to the Edgar May Health and Recreation Center.
There was also an agreement that no non-Springfield residents would be released into the community to live there following jail time. McNaughton did not believe the state was living up to the agreement.
He said families of prisoners relocate to Springfield. According to McNaughton, once they are released, many go to rehabilitation centers and remain in the area.
“If this is true then the state violated the spirit of agreement with Springfield. If it’s not true, the state needs to be clear,” McNaughton said.
Another concern is the influx of out-of-state drugs and gangs. McNaughton asked what preventative measures are being taken in prison to prevent the problem from growing.
“What policies do you have to keep out-of-state drug traffickers with gang connections sequestered from in-state prisoners so that the prison does not become a recruitment center for more gangs and trafficking?”
Pallito told McNaughton the Department of Corrections did not violate the agreement with the town. He spoke with Rep. Alice Emmons of Springfield about the situation and they are taking steps to make Springfield safer.
“That will be emerging over the next month or so,” Pallito said.
McNaughton hopes the state will step up their efforts on monitoring out-of-state prisoners.
“Until they’ve done studies then I don’t think the public should believe what the state is saying,” he said. “If they want to end the rumor, they need to be tracking them six months after release.”
The Department of Corrections said they will respond to feedback in the coming weeks. The responses will be posted on their website at www.doc.state.vt.us.
The next interactive, televised meeting will take place in February. A date has not been determined.