Crime and Justice

Top Newport prison officials placed on leave, corrections chief says

Mike Touchette
Department of Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette at a community meeting earlier this week in Burlington to discuss staff misconduct at the the women’s prison at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

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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Eric HutchinsMiriam FriedJo romano montpelier vtAnita CarbonellNicole Gadreault Recent comment authors
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Tom Wheaton
Tom Wheaton

Wow, it’s like they haven’t been paying attention for years and all of a sudden they realize this is now bad politically and are going to do something about it

Karen McIlveen1
Karen McIlveen1

A lame attempt at redirecting the accountability at the top of the food chain.
Sadly a lot of good workers will be accused by central office until the pound of flesh has been barbecued and the good staff are so fearful of coming forward of any misappropriation. As it’s said in volleyball…. rotate.
Good work Digger this litter box needs thorough dumping.

Nicole Gadreault
Nicole Gadreault

This is just the beginning for the Newport Jail here in Newport. I had the privilege of talking to super attendant Rutherford this past Tuesday retaliation happened to my husband inside that Jail my husband having firsthand knowledge of the inmate that the past not being prescribed right medications being told in visitation that at a correctional officer if you have $500 he’ll get you anything you want and bring it into you all these emails a nurse practitioner yelling at my husband at the top of her lungs on Tuesday I taped the conversation I have all the emails since my husband came across right in there November and this is just the beginning for corrections. And what they like to do is try to discredit people sweep it under the carpet circle the wagons and have other people take the fall for them not this time emails and tape recordings do not lie nor do phone Listening to that inmate last Friday gasping for air and the nurses didn’t believe them give him a Benadryl.

Nicole Gadreault
Nicole Gadreault

To let me finish they gave him Benadryl and told him to lay straight down Kenneth Johnson my husband along with the other and made in the infirmary at 2:50 in the morning checked in on him they watch TV and they checked on him my husband how to get your attention for them to see that he had passed away. As for my husband he’s been there since November they haven’t been giving him medication I have no use for the caseworker in there I’ve sent her emails sent your VA paperwork for medications been told that dirty correctional officers in there I emailed her that the director of nursing is no good director of nursing or overseas medical for the state of Vermont Heidi FOX NOW good all they do is give you lip service. Super attendant Rutherford on Tuesday when I spoke to him less than professional chewing his food in my ear laughing at me and I spoke to him about retaliation we don’t retaliate 10 minutes husband was shipped out . There is more background to this. Corrections is corrupt.

Nicole Gadreault
Nicole Gadreault

Its called disregard. That’s what its for. Smart butts are very small things. DOC Feeds of recognition, of the Good, Bad and annoyance . Attention of any sort serves their purpose. Disregard however ,leaves then lonely and starving. How do we deal with DOC? Disregard and ignore them, they are below our standards. They will deflect and lie and then the other person says , there lying so we can do that and then we can cover up the mess. Trust me when I say this , They are circling the wagons now. I’am the one that called the Governors Office this week , about the death of the inmate , Not giving proper medication to family member and retaliation I had not so plesent conversation with superintende Rutherford on 12/10/2019 and 10 min later like i stated retalit on my family member , he had him shipped. They try to say for medical, but taped conversations do not LIE. Oh, yea lets not for get the dirty Correctional officer in Newport, give him 500.00 and he’ll bring in what you want.

Anita Carbonell
Anita Carbonell

They haven’t been paying attention for years and now it is going to cost a fortune to get people in to fix it and a fortune to investigate and discharge bad staff – and it’s not all at the top. The department has always focused on either field services or facilities but not both at the same time. The legislature needs to tear the corrections contract to shreds and impose standards of conduct that do not take months and years to terminate staff, mandate drug testing at hire and randomly, and staff property searches as well as access to social media – for openers. Then increase staffing by at least half again and reconfigure officer stations, job descriptions, rotation and training standards.

Jo romano montpelier vt
Jo romano montpelier vt

Touchette needs to be placed on administrative leave
And yes yes yes women prisons need all women guards and a female superintendent

Miriam Fried
Miriam Fried

No surprise here. Everyone knows that corrections as a field is one of the most corrupt fields in the country. A lot of times it seems the guards are more criminal than the prisoners they confine.

Eric Hutchins
Eric Hutchins

I used to work at this prison. It is the most corrupt place I have ever seen. Rutherford lets his own staff get sexually harassed and does nothing about it. He sweeps everything under the carpet. He treats the inmates way better than his own staff. He only cares about the people that kids his ass. I worked there for almost 8 years and he was the worst superintendent I ever had. There is so much more corruption that goes on that nobody knows about or sees.


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