On the radio and online, I’ve heard of the troubles at Northern State Correctional Facility (NSCF) in Newport. In an unusual move, the staff at the prison sent a letter of a “vote of no confidence” in Interim Superintendent Lori Madden. According to VtDigger, “The letter alleged that Madden has failed to staff key positions, permitted untrained staff to work in security positions, and confined incarcerated individuals to their living unit without recreation opportunities due to understaffing.”
The article does not mention the experience of residents at NSCF under Ms. Madden’s leadership. Some of us here at Vermont Just Justice have loved ones in that facility, and here’s what they have reported to us:
- No response from superintendent when contacted regarding resident’s acute mental health episode and the facility response
- Request to address medical malpractice concerning resident’s treatment and concerns ignored even after Prisoners Rights confirmed and supported the complaint
- Oversight and communication on required programming and projected release dates not present even after many requests
- Lost property forms and grievances not responded to and requests to superintendent for assistance were not responded to
- Requests to discuss programming, housing and disciplinary reports ignored
- Complaints regarding safety of residents while walking to med line not responded to. (Residents must cross a large outdoor space unsupervised to reach their meds 3x a day and are often harassed )
- According to residents, there is little or no oversight on security decisions
- NSCF continues to have inconsistent security and safety measures
- Under cooked, inedible food, which has led to incarcerated people becoming sick
- Staff retaliation and harassment
Ms. Madden has since left her position as Interim Supervisor in Newport, and has returned to her previous Assistant Superintendent role at Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans. Corrections Commissioner Nick Deml said “The Department thanks Assistant Superintendent Madden for her service at NSCF and looks forward to her continued leadership in St Albans.” In other words, he thanks her for having put staff and residents at risk, and looks forward to more of the same in St. Albans? For putting untrained persons in security positions, endangering their well-being, as well as the safety and well-being of residents?
We, on the other hand, thank the staff of NSCF for coming forward to challenge what they experienced as a dangerous tenure at their place of work.
— Meg McCarthy