Vaughn warden placed on leave with pay ‘until further notice’

SMYRNA — Delaware Department of Correction leaders have placed David Pierce, the warden at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, on administrative leave with pay.

Although DOC officials have not provided the reason for the status change, it comes on the heels of the Feb. 1 inmate uprising that left Lt. Steven Floyd dead.

“We are unable to share additional details as personnel records are private,” said Jayme Gravell, spokeswoman for the DOC.

Deputy Warden Philip Parker stepped in Monday as acting warden “until further notice,” Ms. Gravell said. He has worked for the DOC since 1992 and became deputy warden at Vaughn in October 2013.

Mr. Pierce started working for the DOC in 1996 and became warden of Vaughn in August 2013.

Ms. Gravell noted that Mr. Pierce’s annual salary is $109,596 plus hazardous duty pay of $3,120. Mr. Parker’s annual salary is $85,317 plus $3,120 hazard duty pay.

Several investigations and probes have been called for since the incident at James T. Vaughn, the state’s largest prison. On Feb. 7, the Delaware Coalition of Prison Reform and Justice asked the federal government to look into the incident. On Feb. 14, Gov. John Carney signed an executive order officially placing a former Delaware Supreme Court justice and former Family Court judge in charge of a review of the uprising.

Henry Ridgely, who served on the state’s top court from 2004-15, and William Chapman, a Family Court judge from 1995-2015, are tasked with determining what occurred and what steps the state can take to keep its prisons safe.

Gov. Carney stressed that the investigation would be “independent.”

Delaware State Police investigators are conducting a criminal probe and the Department of Correction is looking into the matter internally as well. The review ordered by the governor will not begin until the criminal probe concludes. A state police spokesman said no timetable has been set for when the criminal inquiry will be completed.

On Thursday, the Senate Labor Committee will hold a hearing, unrelated to the Vaughn incident, to examine the working conditions within the state’s prisons.

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