December death of Vermont inmate under investigation, prison official says

Local News
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(AP) — Vermont’s Interim Corrections Commissioner James Baker says investigations are underway into the death of an African American inmate in December who died as a result of an undiagnosed tumor in his airway.

Baker says 60-year-old Kenneth Johnson repeatedly told staff that he could not breathe and that “no one should die in our custody the way that Mr. Johnson passed away.”

Johnson died December 2, 2019, at the Northern State Correctional Facility. He was being held without bail, accused in September 2017 of trafficking a 15-year-old Vermont girl.

He said Johnson’s death was a big push to announce Monday that a Kansas company has won a three-year contract to provide health care services to inmates. VitalCore Health Strategies started July 1 and replaces Centurian, whose contract expired. Officials say VitalCore’s nearly $20 million bid was the cheapest of the three bidders.

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