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Detainees not coming to Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY - One of today's euphemistic, politically correct terms used to describe foreigners in the U.S. without a legal passport is "undocumented immigrants", but to average folks they are, simply, "illegal aliens".

A report that appeared in the Burlington Free Press as well as on several Vermont radio stations last week incorrectly reported that several illegal immigration detainees would be housed in the Addison County jail at 35 Court Street (Route 7) in downtown Middlebury. The Middlebury jail was built in 1845 and has operated as such since that time.

According to Addison County Sheriff James B. Coons, the report was false.

"I don't know where it came from, but I'd like to correct this false news story. Addison County is not taking the prisoners from Franklin County," Coons said. "All the prisoners have been transferred to the jail in Clinton County, N.Y."

Coons said he was surprised that the report got it wrong.

"I don't know who started it, but it's not true," Coons said. "I don't want suspected terrorists in our jail. That doesn't mean it can't happen here some day, but as far as the Franklin County detainees are concerned, they are all in New York now."

Coons said the Clinton County jail is closer to the border and makes the transport of illegals by federal agents easier than in Addison County.

The news that Addison County was involved in the transfer may have originated with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department jail in St. Albans. The 116-year-old, 20-bed prison closed Sept. 30; it was used to jail "low-risk" federal prisoners. The prison shut down after it failed to measure up to federal detention rules, unlike the 21-bed Addison County jail which has a prison exercise yard.

The news report noted that the all-male St. Albans prison lacked an exercise yard for prisoners and did not provide 24-hour medical service for the prisoners, many with special dietary needs.

It is common knowledge that Muslim prisoners held by federal authorities require "special diets". However, reports were not specific about the backgrounds of the Franklin County federal detainees.

Federal law says illegals cannot be kept in jail for more than 45 days.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department did not return the Eagle's calls regarding the origin of the original news report.

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