Ar­bi­tra­tor finds war­den’s fir­ing un­war­ranted

Still­wa­ter prison told it must re­hire of­fi­cial who lost job over sex­u­ally graphic e-mails.

Star Tribune - - MINNESOTA - By PAUL WALSH paul.walsh@star­tri­bune.com

An ar­bi­tra­tor has re­versed the fir­ing a year ago of Still­wa­ter prison’s war­den for send­ing sex­u­ally graphic e-mails from his of­fi­cial ac­count and other trou­bling be­hav­ior, but the state Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions said Thurs­day that it is weigh­ing its op­tions for how to re­spond.

Steve Ham­mer lost his job run­ning one of the state’s largest pris­ons for what the depart­ment said was a vi­o­la­tion of var­i­ous poli­cies. Prison of­fi­cials haven’t pro­vided fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion, but a cache of doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Star Tri­bune re­vealed that lewd e-mails, bul­ly­ing and other im­proper be­hav­ior pre­ceded his ouster.

Ham­mer chal­lenged his fir­ing, and cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials were no­ti­fied Tues­day that the ar­bi­tra­tor “granted his griev­ance and awarded him re­in­state­ment,” said depart­ment spokes­woman Sarah Fitzger­ald. She said the depart­ment is choos­ing not to re­lease a copy War­den Steve Ham­mer’s fu­ture at Still­wa­ter prison re­mains un­der re­view.

of the rul­ing pend­ing fur­ther re­view.

She de­clined to ad­dress when Ham­mer might re­turn to duty, say­ing, “The depart­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing the de­ci­sion and next steps.” The prison’s web­site still lists Ed­die Miles as war­den.

Vic­tor Wanchena, as­so­ci­ate war­den at Still­wa­ter, said late Thurs­day morn­ing that Miles’ sta­tus of war­den has not yet changed.

As for Ham­mer’s fu­ture at Still­wa­ter, Wanchena said, “I have no in­for­ma­tion on when he’ll re­turn . ... I have no knowl­edge of what the terms are in [his] re­turn.”

Ham­mer, who first joined the Min­nesota prison sys­tem in 1991, could not be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ment.

The doc­u­ments from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Depart-

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