Independent investigators find it is “inescapable” that more could have been done to provide care for Kenneth Johnson, who repeatedly stated he couldn’t breathe, only to be threatened and told to “knock it off” before dying in late 2019.
James Baker, interim corrections commissioner, says the department has about 75 vacancies for corrections officers. Retention is the biggest challenge, he says.
Vermont’s corrections chief announced at a press conference Thursday a one-year renewal of an agreement with CoreCivic to house its out-of-state inmates as well as the results of a state police investigation into a corrections officer at the women’s prison.
A higher proportion of the number of prisoners who have been moved to Mississippi are Black than is representative of those locked into the Vermont prison population.
Vermont sends prisoners to a private CoreCivic prison in Mississippi. That deal expires Oct. 1, and talks have started on whether to continue the practice.
James Baker testified Thursday before the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee, saying that three department workers are currently under criminal investigation on allegations involving sexual activity.
Two Vermont officials who traveled to Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility this week say the private prison company, CoreCivic, appears to be handling observation, medical care and tracking of Covid-19 cases appropriately.
Mass testing of the 219 Vermont prisoners held in the out-of-state facility took place late last week.
The prisoners are currently in isolation at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland.
The Vermont Defender General’s Prisoners’ Rights Office has released a chilling account of the events leading up to the death of Kenneth Johnson in the Newport prison late last year.
The move comes as the department announced Tuesday that mass testing of inmates and staff at the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury resulted in no positive cases of Covid-19.
The total number of prisoners at the Northwest State Correctional Facility who have tested positive for the coronavirus now stands at 45.
Corrections officials are planning for a ‘worst-case scenario’ after 35 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus.
Moving forward, corrections officials said, they will try to keep coronavirus positive prisoners at their own sites.