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Newport prison superintendent put on administrative leave

A sign in the grass, near some trees.
Lydia Brown
VPR File
The head of Vermont's largest in-state prison is on paid administrative leave. The Department of Corrections says it's investigating allegations of mismanagement at the facility.

The head of Vermont’s largest in-state prison is on paid administrative leave following allegations of mismanagement at the facility, the Department of Corrections announced on Tuesday.

Scott Martin, the superintendent of Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, was removed from the position after concerns were raised about the “management and direction” of the prison, said DOC in a press release. Assistant superintendent Mike Koehler will take over as acting superintendent until further notice.

The department opened an investigation into Martin in late January, said DOC Commissioner Nicholas Deml.

“The initial findings of our review really eroded my confidence in his ability to execute the duties of superintendent,” Deml said in an interview.

“The initial findings of our review really eroded my confidence in his ability to execute the duties of superintendent."
Nicholas Deml, Department of Corrections Commissioner

Deml declined to provide more details about the allegations, but he said there were no allegations of criminal misconduct.

He did indicate some issues were identified during a separate department investigation into the death of Michael Cornell, an incarcerated individual at Northern State Correctional Facility.

Cornell was found dead in his cell on New Year’s Day, and DOC said at the time the death was not considered suspicious. The department is still reviewing the incident. Last week, Seven Days reported that the medical examiner ruled Cornell died from an accidental drug overdose.

Deml said Martin was not removed because of the incident, and Martin’s actions in “no way caused or impacted” Cornell’s death. But he said DOC’s inquiry into Cornell’s death raised some concerns.

“There are some management issues that were flagged in our initial review of the death investigation that are concerning and were a factor,” Deml said.

More from VPR: People Incarcerated At Newport Prison Raise Concerns As DOC Reports 7 More COVID-19 Cases

This isn’t the first time Martin has been placed on administrative leave. In 2019 Martin, who was then an assistant superintendent, was placed on leave after the department received a “credible report” that required further review, according toSeven Days.

Martin became acting superintendent of the Newport prison in July 2020 and permanent superintendent in August 2021.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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