Cheshire County has named a new jail superintendent to replace longtime warden Rick Van Wickler, who retired at the end of May.
Doug Iosue, a case worker at the jail for about 11 years, will step into the new role Thursday, the county announced.
“Iosue worked closely with recently retired Superintendent Richard Van Wickler and shares the same progressive philosophy of operating a safe, humane corrections facility that addresses social justice, rehabilitation, substance misuse treatment and the long standing national predominance of mental health disorders in correction populations,” the county said in a prepared statement Wednesday announcing the promotion.
Iosue, 56, of Spofford, has a master’s in social work and experience in both clinical and administrative roles. Before the Cheshire County Department of Corrections, he worked at the Brattleboro Retreat and Monadnock Family Services.
“It’s been an exciting and interesting time to be in the field of corrections, with criminal justice reform [and] a lot of systems change as we kind of evolve from simply providing safety and managing inmates,” he said Wednesday.
Under Van Wickler, he said, the jail evolved to better meet the needs of people suffering from addiction or mental-health issues and to provide programs that give inmates opportunities to change. He said he intends to follow the same philosophy, which starts with “basic respect and humane treatment.”
“The approach and the mission is certainly not going to change,” Iosue said.
Iosue noted that criminal justice has been moving toward offering more treatment programs and other alternatives to incarceration. He has worked on such programs locally, including the Cheshire County Drug Court, with law enforcement, court personnel and other stakeholders.
He said one of the most rewarding parts of his job has been having “the chance to influence policies and practices around the criminal justice system, and particularly the many, many people that are caught up in it with substance-use disorders and mental-health issues.”
In its news release, the county noted Iosue’s experience as a clinician and administrator, his work with Van Wickler and his “wealth of community connections” that will enhance the jail’s ability to offer inmates opportunities for positive change.
County Administrator Christopher Coates said 22 people applied for the position and five made it through the first round of interviews, though one dropped out. The field was then narrowed to two finalists.