For the third time since October, a Vermont inmate recently held at a state prison in Pennsylvania has died.
According to the Vermont Department of Corrections, 62-year-old Herbert Rodgers died Monday morning at Harrisburg Hospital. In a statement, the department did not give a cause for Rodgers' death, saying only that it appears to be "related to a medical issue." An autopsy is pending.
According to the DOC, Rodgers was serving a sentence of at least 30 years for maiming. Rodgers had been convicted of attacking his estranged wife Carmen Tarleton with lye, leaving her with severe burns and a disfigured face. Tarleton received a face transplant in 2013.
Rodgers was one of about 260 Vermont inmates serving time at the state-run Camp Hill Prison in Pennsylvania. The prisoners were transferred there from a private prison in Michigan back in July, after the Department of Corrections signed an interstate compact with Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania and Vermont will conduct administrative reviews and clinical reviews, which will help inform us as to Mr. Rodgers’ medical need and level of care that had been provided,” Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Mike Touchette said Tuesday.
Rodgers is the second Vermont inmate to die at Camp Hill prison since that transfer took place. In October, Roger Brown died of metastatic cancer. A third Vermont inmate, Timothy Adams, died at Southern State Correctional Facility in Vermont shortly after being transferred from Camp Hill.
Touchette said federal privacy laws prohibit the state from disclosing Rodgers’ cause of death. Asked whether any of the inmates' deaths were the result of substandard medical care at the Camp Hill prison, Touchette said the department won’t be able answer that question until they finalize independent reviews examining the circumstances surrounding the cases.
“Without having completed those administrative reviews, it’s difficult to determine whether or not there’s a consistency or pattern of facts that need to be evaluated further,” Touchette said. “These are exhaustive efforts to look at all facets of person’s case and health care and needs.”
About 260 Vermont inmates are serving time in the Camp Hill prison right now, because the state lacks jail space to house them in Vermont.
Update 12/19/2017 1:18 p.m. This post was updated to include additional reporting with comments from Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Mike Touchette.
Update 12/19/2017 2:12 p.m. This post was updated to include additional information about Rodgers' conviction.