February 8, 2013

Fired Maine prison warden takes another state job

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

PORTLAND — The recently fired warden of the Maine State Prison will take another state corrections job in March, for about two-thirds of her previous salary.

click image to enlarge

In this Jan. 2010 file photo Maine State Prison Warden, Patricia Barnhart, responds to questions during an interview in her office in Warren, Maine. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

Patricia Barnhart, who was the warden of the prison in Warren from 2009 until January, will take over as the Department of Corrections' policy development coordinator March 1, according to department spokeswoman Jody Breton. Barnhart's annual salary will drop from $102,897 to $68,578.

The Bangor Daily News published news of Barnhart's new position Thursday after filing a public information request.

Breton said "recruitment and retention problems" were hurting staffing levels at the prison under Barnhart's leadership, so the state made a change.

Rodney Bouffard, superintendent of the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, is now acting as the state prison's warden. Breton said a national search for a new warden is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

Barnhart will be paid her warden's salary until she takes the new position, which Breton said is a longstanding position in the department. Seven people applied.

Barnhart was "by far the most qualified candidate," Breton said. The policy development coordinator is responsible for writing Corrections Department policy.

James Mackie, a staff representative for AFSCME Council 93, a union representing Maine corrections workers, told the Portland Press Herald last month that Barnhart was fired on Jan. 10.

Mackie was critical of the firing.

For weeks, state officials have refused to comment on the firing, saying it was a private personnel matter.

Before coming to Maine, Barnhart, the only female warden ever at the Maine State Prison, had a 20-year career in corrections in Michigan.

She worked her way from being a corrections officer to acting warden at a 1,216-bed prison for men and young offenders.

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

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