Out-of-state prison limiting inmate communication

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s chief public defender says the housing of some of the state’s inmates in a Pennsylvania prison is making it “much more difficult” for his lawyers to communicate with their clients.
Defender General Matthew Valerio told Vermont Public Radio that the transfer to the Camp Hill prison over the summer was causing more problems than previous out-of-state incarceration agreements.
“So far, this Pennsylvania placement has been far and away the most difficult to get access to the inmates to find out what’s going on down there and address whatever needs they might have, or even just to address their ongoing legal issues that they have in Vermont,” Valerio said.
Valerio said the problems have persisted despite efforts to reach an agreement with Pennsylvania prison officials.
In a statement, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said staff at the Camp Hill prison had given the defender general’s staff greater access to prison staff as part of its visitor policy, including “the exclusive use of attorney/client visiting rooms for its pre-scheduled visits.”
It said the defender general had not communicated any concerns with the process and that representatives of the defender general’s office had only visited the prison twice since August.
“The Vermont inmates are now being housed in one of the largest state prisons in Pennsylvania which is responsible for the care and custody of more than 3,000 inmates,” the statement said. “It is imperative that all inmate visitors follow the established policy in order to ensure that each inmate in the prison is afforded fair and consistent visitation privileges.”
For years Vermont has sent hundreds of prison inmates to out-of-state prisons to alleviate overcrowding in the state’s facilities. This summer about 280 inmates were transferred to Pennsylvania from a private prison in Michigan.
Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Mike Touchette says he’s aware of Valerio’s complaints.
Touchette says some privately run out-of-state prisons previously accommodated the defender general’s request for a confidential phone line and eased rules on attorney visits.
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Information from: WVPS-FM, http://www.vpr.net

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Vermont health official: subsidy loss threat to coverage

Vermont health official: subsidy loss threat to coverage
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s top health care official says the decision by President Donald Trump to end subsidies that help thousands of Vermonters afford health insurance poses a long-term threat to their coverage.
Vermont Health Access Commissioner Cory Gustafson said Friday that the president’s decision will not have an immediate impact on the approximately 12,200 Vermonters who get subsidized care through the state’s health care exchange.
But he says in the longer-term, the loss of the subsidies means “there’s going to be an adjustment” for those who use qualified health plans.
Gustafson says that in 2016 the federal government provided about $12 million in subsidies for those low-income Vermonters.
Gustafson says the loss of the subsidy shouldn’t change peoples’ decision on whether to sign up for care during the upcoming open enrollment period.

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Feds: 16 in custody after illegal entry from Canada

Feds: 16 in custody after illegal entry from Canada
By WILSON RING, Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended more than a dozen people from Mexico and two Central American countries, including a 4-year-old child and a pregnant woman, after some illegally entered the United States from Canada, officials said Tuesday.
Sixteen people were taken into custody Sunday at a motel in Vermont, just south of the Quebec border, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Burlington. Authorities said they crossed into the country from Canada and came from Mexico and Guatemala.
Officials say Hector Ramon Perez Alvarado, of Honduras, made at least two trips from the motel to an area in Vermont near the Quebec border. He faces human smuggling charges. Two others in the group, Mexican citizens Noe Perez-Ramirez and Alberto Alvarado-Castro, were charged with being in the United States illegally after previously being deported.
Efforts to reach attorneys for the three were unsuccessful. No one else in the group had been charged.
Border Patrol agents received a tip late Saturday afternoon that led agents to focus on a spot just south of the Beebe Plain port of entry, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Stephanie Malin.
Early Saturday evening, agents followed a van from the Four Seasons Motel to an area in Derby about 1,500 feet (460 meters) south of the Canadian border, according to an affidavit by Border Patrol agent Matthew Palma. The van turned onto a side road and then quickly returned to the motel, Palma said.
Agents began to watch the van while another agent hid in the woods. When the van, later determined to be driven by Perez-Alvarado, approached the area a second time, the agent in the woods “heard multiple subjects running through the wooded area near the border he was watching,” Palma said.
Agents using night-vision equipment watched several people run south, some of them using cellphones.
The agents stopped the van when it got back to the hotel. Perez-Alvarado and six other people got out. Agents found nine more people in Perez-Alvarado’s room.
Malin called it the largest single apprehension of people in memory by Border Patrol agents in the agency’s Swanton Sector, which runs almost 300 miles, from the Maine-New Hampshire border to upstate New York.

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