Former Vaughn security chief fired by DOC

DOVER — The security superintendent at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center during the deadly Feb. 1 inmate uprising was terminated on Oct. 20, according to the Department of Corrections (DOC).

“Jeffrey Carrothers is no longer employed by the department,” said Jayme Gravell, spokeswoman for the DOC.

Mr. Carrothers had been reassigned from his security chief post in March following the uprising. Details about where he’d been moved or what prompted the shift were not released at the time as personnel records are private, said Ms. Gravell. For the same reason, the DOC declined to provide the cause for his recent termination.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed on Tuesday that Mr. Carrothers’s former position of correctional security superintendent paid an annual salary of $69,733.91.

Internal affairs investigation

Although it’s unclear why Mr. Carrothers was terminated, the DOC did confirm Tuesday that a department-led internal affairs investigation related to the Vaughn prison uprising is ongoing.

Since the riot there have been several high profile administrations changes. About 20 days after the uprising former Vaughn prison warden David Pierce was reassigned.

“He has been reassigned to the Bureau of Community Corrections and is performing duties equivalent to his merit pay grade,” said Ms. Gravell back in April.

He retains the merit title of Warden V at a salary of $109,595.64, confirmed the OMB.

In mid-May, the Associated Press reported that Christopher Klein, chief of the Bureau of Prisons, had been replaced. Mr. Klein accepted a new job as deputy principal assistant at the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security — led by Robert Coupe, his former boss at the DOC. As bureau chief under both Mr. Coupe and current DOC commissioner Perry Phelps, Mr. Klein oversaw Delaware’s four prisons, including JTVCC.

Although it’s unclear if any of the administrative changes were related to the internal affairs investigation, Gov. John Carney’s independent review of the Feb. 1 uprising pointed to several culture, leadership and communication factors that may have contributed directly to the incident.

Perhaps most notably; the observation that Lt. Steven Floyd — the correctional officer killed in the riot — was ignored when he requested the transfer of “over five” inmates shortly before the incident. The review, prepared by former Family Court judge William Chapman, Jr. and former U.S. attorney Charles Oberly III, stated:

An ambulance races to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna during the inmate uprising on Feb. 1.
Delaware State News/ File photo

“Most unfortunately, the Independent Review Team believes that had the request for the removal of certain inmates from the C-Building (the site of the incident) made on Jan. 20 by the very correctional officer who was killed during the incident that began on Feb. 1, been taken more seriously and carried out, the incident and the resulting death may not have occurred.”

The DOC didn’t respond to questions when the internal affairs investigation is expected to be complete.

Jonathan Starkey, a spokesman with the Governor’s office, said Gov. Carney will eventually be briefed on the investigation.

“The internal investigation is being led by the DOC and the Governor will be briefed upon its conclusion,” said Mr. Starkey. “Along with the criminal investigation and the independent review, this is one of three investigations into the events of Feb. 1 and 2 at JTVCC. The governor is confident that we will end up with a comprehensive understanding of what happened.”

For their part, the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD) noted that its members also look forward to the completion of the investigation.

“We hope that those, internally, that made mistakes are held responsible,” said COAD president Geoff Klopp. “We haven’t been given any hard dates on when that’ll be; ‘soon’ is all we’ve heard.”

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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