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Montana State Prison warden resigns; state says still no COVID at MSP

Warden Lynn Guyer began job two years ago
Posted at 11:36 AM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 21:48:34-04

The state is looking for a new warden at Montana State Prison, after Warden Lynn Guyer resigned this month after less than two years on the job.

Guyer submitted a one-sentence resignation letter to state corrections officials on July 16, saying only that he is leaving the job “after considerable thought and talking with my family.”

The state gave no further information about his departure, which is effective Aug. 30.

The state said Deputy Warden Jim Salmonsen, a 31-year veteran of the prison, will serve as acting warden while a search is underway for a permanent warden.

Also this past week, the prison’s acting medical director said no prison inmates within the state correctional system Prison system have tested positive for COVID-19.

Sources told MTN News earlier this month that they believed several inmates had been quarantined at the State Prison infirmary after testing positive for COVID-19, and that a prison correctional officer had been exposed to someone with the disease.

Department officials confirmed that a prison correctional officer reported possible exposure to someone with Covid-19 and that a unit at MSP had been placed on lockdown until his test results were returned.

Yet Paul Rees, the prison’s acting medical director, said at a Parole Board hearing last week that the only inmates within the state system who had tested positive for the disease are two at a Bozeman pre-release center. They likely contracted it while out on a job, and have been quarantined, he said.

“The most glaring thing is that we don’t have an outbreak (at the State Prison), or even a case yet here,” Rees said.

The prison is under a no-visitation policy and any inmates who leave for medical treatment are tested for the disease and under quarantine for 14 days, he said, and then tested again before being released back into the prison population.

Guyer became warden at Montana State Prison in September 2018. He spent 30 years in the Idaho corrections system before retiring there in 2016 and had been warden at the North Idaho Correctional Center, southeast of Lewiston, Idaho.