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Black inmate’s death being investigated

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by Joseph Gresser


NEWPORT — State officials have hired Downs Rachlin Martin, one of the state’s most prominent law firms, to look into the death of Kenneth Johnson on December 7, 2019 while he was an inmate at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Smith, who has authority over the Department of Corrections, said he is not satisfied with the medical care given Mr. Johnson, and he is concerned that racism might have played a role in his death.

Secretary Smith said he authorized the investigators to turn over findings to the office of the U.S. Attorney for Vermont and the Vermont Attorney General for further action if they deem it necessary.

Kenneth Johnson, 60, of Lyndon, was a black man who was held awaiting trial from 2017 to 2019.

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