Windham County Sheriff Pulls Plug On Justice Center Plan

Mar 22, 2016

The Windham County Sheriff now says he will not try to build a 150-bed detention center in Rockingham.

Earlier this month Sheriff Keith Clark filed a zoning application for an $18 million criminal justice center to house federal and state detainees waiting trial.

Clark says he received a surprise call from the U.S. Marshals Service Tuesday informing him that the federal agency would not use the bed space if he built the facility.

"As I said all along, I would not move forward with a project if I couldn't make it work financially," he says. "I was not going to put my office at financial risk. And at this point, without their support, I can't do what we were planning on doing."

Clark's plan sparked widespread opposition in Bellows Falls and Rockingham, but he says the critics did not derail the project.

According to Clark the project was beginning to pick up support, and he says he was planning to make his case before the Rockingham Zoning Board this week.

The U.S. Marshals Service had backed the project, and Clark says he does not know why the federal service pulled back its support for the southern Vermont justice center.

"As I said all along, I would not move forward with a project if I couldn't make it work financially. I was not going to put my office at financial risk. And at this point, without their support, I can't do what we were planning on doing." — Windhalm County Sheriff Keith Clark

The Windham County Sheriff also hoped to provide services to state prisoners leaving the criminal justice system.

Clark says there's still a need for criminal justice reform, and he says he hopes to develop that programming in the future.