New prison superintendent hired in wake of inmate uprising

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(Host) The superintendent who ran a private prison where Vermonters rioted last week has been replaced. And Vermont’s leading defense lawyer says he hopes the change will improve conditions at the Kentucky jail.

Defender General Matthew Valerio said the riot last week was due partly to harsh conditions imposed by former superintendent Randy Eckman. The prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA.

(Valerio) “The root cause was a marked change in policies and privileges and liberties within the facility as a result of a new superintendent, who had come in about two months ago. And it was perceived both by staff at CCA and the inmates that there were arbitrary, relatively serious punishments for minor infractions; arbitrary changes in rules, changes in frankly food quality and food amount, commissary privileges, rec yard privileges and the like. And the tensions rose significantly.”

(Host) After the riot, CCA appointed a new superintendent, Randy Stovall, to run the prison. Vermont corrections officials have sent a team to monitor conditions at the prison. A lawyer with the prisoner’s rights office has also been there and Valerio says there will be a follow up visit as well. The prison remained in modified lock-down mode this week, with inmates only allowed limited time outside their cells.

CCA says that 23 Vermont inmates were involved in last week’s riot. Initially only four Vermonters were implicated.

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