Two top officials at the Newport prison have been placed on administrative leave after the head of the state Department of Corrections said a “credible report was made that warrants further assessment.”
Michael Touchette, the DOC commissioner, said in an email Friday night that the superintendent and assistant superintendent at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport had been placed on leave as of Friday. Seven Days first reported Touchette’s decision.
“I cannot comment on specifics,” Touchette said in the statement, “but a credible report was made that warrants further assessment.”
Though Touchette only identified the positions in the email, the state Department of Corrections website states that the superintendent of the Newport prison is Joshua Rutherford, and Scott Martin is the assistant superintendent of the facility.
No other information about the reasons why the decision was made to place the two men on administrative leave was immediately available.
Greg Hale, superintendent of the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, has agreed to a temporary transfer to the Newport facility where he will serve as interim superintendent of that facility, Touchette wrote in his email.
The Swanton facility that Hale will be leaving has two assistant superintendents who will be filling in for him there, with support from other DOC staff and Hale, according to Touchette.
The news about the leadership shakeup at the Newport facility comes following an investigation by Seven Days published last week into the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, the state’s only prison for women.
That report detailed allegations of drug use and sexual abuse by corrections staff of women prisoners they supervised.
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Mike Smith, secretary of the state Agency of Human Services, has said shortly there would be an independent investigation into the allegations. He has taken over supervision of the women’s prison, while the men’s prisons remain under Touchette.
The prison in Newport houses about 400 prisoners.
Last year a correctional officer and inmates at the Newport prison were charged in a scheme to smuggle buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, hidden inside magic markers into the facility. They both later admitted to federal criminal charges.
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