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Vermont DOC Reports Death in St. Johnsbury

Waterbury, VT – The Vermont Department of Corrections is conducting an internal review, to include administrative and medical reviews, following the death of an incarcerated individual at Northeast Correctional Complex (NECC) in St. Johnsbury on Sunday.

Dustin Dunkling, 29, of St. Albans, was found unresponsive by Vermont DOC staff at approximately 9:30 PM on April 3, 2022. Correctional and medical staff first responders began life-saving efforts and immediately called for outside medical assistance. Fire and EMS crews arrived and attempted to revive Dunkling, who was pronounced deceased at the facility. The official cause of death will be determined by the Vermont State Medical Examiner but, at this time, the cause is suspected to be suicide.

Vermont DOC notified Vermont State Police and the Prisoners’ Rights Office of the death per state law and protocol. These entities will be conducting separate investigations into the death in conjunction with the Vermont DOC’s administrative and medical reviews.

The Vermont DOC Peer Support Team is on site at the facility to support NECC staff.

“Any loss of life in our system is tragic and it should, and will, serve as a reminder of the human needs incumbent in our work,” said Commissioner Nicholas Deml. “The pandemic’s toll on mental and emotional well-being is acutely apparent in our Department, where we see first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on both our staff and those in our care and custody. We will continue to focus our attention on the mental and emotional health needs of our incarcerated population and our staff as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build toward our future.”

Dunkling was lodged at NECC on March 24 on a violation of probation and placed in intake quarantine per Vermont DOC COVID-19 mitigation protocol.

Vermont DOC is reviewing its intake quarantine COVID-19 mitigation protocol in furtherance of its phased approach to reopen Vermont’s correctional facilities and to minimize the impact these protocols have on the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of those in the Department’s care and custody.

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