VPR Header
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
VPR News

Mental Health Services Suspended At Some Vermont Prisons

A person smiling.

The Vermont Department of Corrections has confirmed that inmates at some facilities don't have access to mental health services. 

Chris Burnor, a man held at Northwest State Correctional Facility, told VPR his weekly visits with mental health professionals ended when the outbreak of COVID-19 began inside that prison.

"After everything else has happened in my life, mental health has always been there," Burnor said. "Now the most crazy thing that's ever happened in my life, and mental health is not there for us. I just don't understand."

Burnor said because he is held in a closed custody unit, he used to see a counselor every week. He said he struggles with PTSD, and is isolated in a single-person cell.

“Once you actually speak to somebody about something,” he said, “maybe you feel better about whatever the situation is.”

Additionally, Burnor said, he’s concerned for his fellow inmates, many of whom he described as seriously mentally ill or functionally impaired.

More from VPR: How Are Vermont Prisons Handling COVID-19?

Commissioner of Corrections Jim Baker said he recently learned that mental health services had been suspended in some facilities.

“I was concerned when I heard about this,” he said. “We all know that stress drives triggers for folks who are in mental health crises.”

Baker said his office began working to address the issue in the last couple days.

Related Content