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Stillwater prison warden put on leave, has been disciplined before for staff relationships

The warden of the prison in Stillwater has been put on paid leave while he is investigated, having previously been disciplined twice during his time with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC).

The DOC confirmed to BringMeTheNews that Steve Hammer, who earns a $135,845 salary as CEO at Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF) Stillwater, is on paid investigative leave.

Steve Hammer

Steve Hammer (Photo: Minnesota DOC)

While the reason for the investigation has not been revealed, documents released by the DOC confirm he has twice before been reprimanded for inappropriate conduct with other members of staff.

Most recently, in August 2014 while he was the warden of MCF Rush City, Hammer was disciplined after confirming rumors he was in a romantic relationship with one of his employees.

According to a memo from DOC Assistant Commissioner John King, Hammer was told that henceforth he must only meet with this employee if there were other people around “to avoid the impression your relationship is affecting the workplace.”

He was also told to recuse himself from all decisions relating to the worker’s employment.

In March 2003, while Acting Assistant Superintendent at MCF Red Wing, Hammer was suspended for a day after allegations were made of inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment, another memo reveals.

He admitted to having had a “sort of flirtatious email/phone conversation thing once in a while,” which led to them arranging to meet at his boat one morning, which he said he did because he “thought she was lonely,” and to which he did not turn up.

“You were aware and believed that [redacted] was romantically interested in you and yet you did not distance yourself from the relationship,” the suspension memo from Superintendent Otis Zanders said.

The female worker in this case resigned from the prison service in December 2002, prior to making the allegations.

Hammer became the warden at MCF Stillwater in March 2015 after moving from Rush City. He joined the prison service in 1991.

The Star Tribune, which initially reported the memos on Wednesday morning, said Hammer could not be reached for comment.

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