Don't burden Bellows Falls
Editor of the Reformer:
Now that I have had some time to think about the overall presumption that Bellows Falls should accept the Liberty Mill Justice Center, an unsettling, insidious image begins to form of the resultant burden on the village of Bellows Falls.
At the end of the 20th century, the town of Rockingham and the village of Bellows Falls were given the choice, through the democratic process — prison or no prison. The resounding answer from the voters was no. Time passed and the decision to build the prison, or SSCF in Springfield, came to be, but not without the following, as written in the DOC Report to the Legislature: "Local Ordinance and Agreement — When the Springfield Correctional Facility was built the DOC entered into an agreement with the Town of Springfield indicating that the DOC would only furlough inmates into that town who originated from Springfield. This agreement impacts offenders from that area reentering the community."
Here is the burden which has silently been placed upon Bellows Falls, without our knowledge or acceptance. The alarming statistical imbalance of 93-plus-or-minus furloughees in our tiny village is the direct result of the placement of the prison, which we refused, creating a void to be filled by state contractors and others who profit here by providing housing to those offenders who cannot reside in Springfield. Satellite social service agencies were created to provide support for those housed here. In fact, all manner of services are available to get furloughees to their needed programs to guide them out of incarceration and rebuild their societal networks and improve their post-prison outcomes. Laudable goals.
Our burden is large enough for a city. Do not stretch our patience with this jail as well.