Vermont State Police are investigating the death of an inmate this week. This is the second inmate to die at the Springfield Correctional Facility in the past three weeks and the fifth person to die in state custody this year. Nick Deml, the Commissioner for the Vermont Department of Corrections called the recent deaths a tragedy.

David Goldstein, an inmate from the Southern State Correctional Facility died on Monday evening in a hospital. “Obviously this is deeply concerning,” said James Lyall, Executive Director of ACLU Vermont. “Not only this incident but the fact that it is the fifth one in the facility this year.”

Three inmates have died at the Southern State Correctional Facility so far this year, and out of the five who have died in state custody, two deaths were apparent suicide. The ACLU believes the pandemic impacted the mental health of inmates.

“I mean it’s been devastating,” said Matthew Valerio, Vermont Defender General. “People in custody in Vermont prison are spending longer periods of isolation and lockdown, and it has a devastating impact on their mental health.”

The Corrections Commissioner says Vermont prisons are experiencing staffing shortages and that there is 20% vacancy of security staff.

Goldstein served his minimum sentence three years ago, but was still behind bars because the Department of Corrections said there wasn’t adequate housing available. “That is a major problem,” said Lyall. “And it is a problem that impacts dozens of people in DOC custody who are being held past their minimum sentence only because the DOC determined that they don’t have adequate housing.”

But Deml says there were other factors at play “depending on the charges that a person experiences. Depending on what community support is needed for an individual to make sure they’re in a positive situation in our community and can live in harmony with what we need them to do for a population. That is the facility that manages our most vulnerable population within the system so they have our acute health care cases and folks experiencing the most extreme physical healthcare issues as well.”

Vermont State Police say the investigation into Goldstein’s death is ongoing at this time. The news release says the cause of deaths was a medical incident.