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Vaughn warden put on paid administrative leave

Delaware Public Media

The warden in charge at James T. Vaughn Correctional Centerduring a 19-hour hostage situation that left one correctional officer dead is now on paid administrative leave indefinitely.

David Pierce has spent the past three years as warden at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna.


He worked his way up through the state Department of Correction, first starting as a prison guard in 1996, and eventually became deputy warden of Delaware's largest prison in 2004.


A DOC spokeswoman wouldn’t explain why Pierce was placed on leave, calling it a private personnel issue.


Officials promoted Deputy Warden Phil Parker to acting warden as of Monday.


On Feb. 1, inmates in Building C overpowered three correctional officers. One of them, Sgt. Steven Floyd, was later pronounced dead due to an unknown trauma. State officials posthumously promoted Floyd to lieutenant.


State police have released little further information, citing an ongoing criminal investigation. All 120 inmates are considered suspects at this time.


Some have said through family members or a lawsuit they’re being mistreated after the deadly incident, though DOC says it can’t comment on ongoing litigation.

Gov. John Carney (D) appointed two former judges to conduct an independent review of the situation following a criminal investigation despite calls from civil rights leaders for the federal government to take over such oversight.

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James Dawson covers Delaware politics and government as well as general assignment stories for Delaware Public Media. He came to Delaware from his home state of Idaho, where he served as a public affairs reporter and news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture.