Newport Prison Superintendent Removed From Post | Off Message

Newport Prison Superintendent Removed From Post

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Northern State Correctional Facility - DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • Department of Corrections
  • Northern State Correctional Facility
The superintendent of Vermont's largest prison, Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, was removed from his role this week over concerns about his management, the Department of Corrections said.

The state placed superintendent Scott Martin on paid leave Monday, a status that's typical during human resources investigations. But, in a press release Tuesday, the department said  that Martin "will not be returning to his position."

The release cited "concerns" that were "raised and reviewed regarding the management and direction of NSCF."



“The Vermont Department of Corrections is committed to changing the culture of corrections, adapting to new realities, and ushering in a new era of leadership and commitment to our team," Commissioner Nicholas Deml, who took the helm last November, said in a statement. "This type of change requires clear and proactive leadership and a focus on making the best decisions in good faith and with integrity.”
Department spokesperson Rachel Feldman would not elaborate on the reasons for Martin's removal, citing an ongoing investigation, but she said the concerns first arose in late January. Asked if the department expects to release more information at a later date, Feldman wrote in an email that "the focus should now turn to those attributes that do meet the Department’s standard of leadership."

In 2019, when he was assistant superintendent, Martin was placed on leave in response to an unspecified "credible report." Martin and then-superintendent Joshua Rutherford were later cleared, VTDigger.org reported, and Martin ultimately became superintendent.

Assistant superintendent Mike Koehler will now serve as acting superintendent until further notice, the department said.
Northern State figured prominently in a Seven Days story last week about the effects of COVID-19 on Vermont prisoners and employees. The facility has faced numerous outbreaks, and prisoners have spent more than half the time in recent months on lockdown. On New Year's Day, a detainee died in a quarantine cell from an accidental overdose of prescribed and illicit medications. Michael Cornell's death is still under investigation.

Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson said Tuesday that Martin's removal is unrelated to Cornell's death.

The department has been plagued by toxic work environments, misconduct allegations and staff shortages in recent years, including a state investigation into allegations of sexual assault and drug use by guards at the women's prison.