Corrections Settles With Deployed Prison Guards

07/29/10 7:34AM By Nina Keck
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(Host) Vermont's Department of Corrections has offered settlements to two Vermont National Guardsmen who alleged they'd been discriminated against while working at the state's prison in Springfield.   

VPR's Nina Keck reports.

(Keck) Tracey Nolan says her husband, Tim, will have a job and his long sought-after promotion after he returns from active duty in Afghanistan.   

Tim Nolan was one of five Vermont National Guardsmen who alleged they'd been passed over for promotions or treated unfairly by prison officials at Springfield after notifying that they would be deployed.  

(Tracey Nolan)  "He feels like somebody took him seriously and listened to him and went to bat for him to try to prove that he wasn't just whining, that there really was something going on. And this Mr. Kuenzli was the person who did that with the federal department of labor."

(Keck)  Robert Kuenzli is with the U.S. Department of Labor and did one of two separate investigations, which resulted in the settlement.   

No financial damages were included, but Nolan and guardsman William Singleton have been offered jobs at the prison after they return from active duty.   

One other guardsmen was not invited back and a fourth, David Neese, dropped his complaint after finding work elsewhere.   

The lawsuit of a fifth guardsman continues to work its way through the courts.   

Rob Hofmann, secretary of Vermont's Agency of Human Services, which oversees the Corrections Department, says the settlement is fair.

(Hofmann) "We did a thorough review. It was handled by and investigated by a former member of the National Guard and he found no basis for the general allegations that were made.    Nonetheless, in the course of the review we did find some things where people needed some coaching and we have given certain people some feedback.  Despite that, the underlying claims were not found to be valid."

(Keck) According to Corrections Commissioner, Andrew Pallito, several supervisors at the state's prison in Springfield were disciplined. But he wouldn't elaborate.    

For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck.

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