Senate confirms Salisbury for permanent director for Department of Corrections 

Wayne Salisbury Jr. will continue to direct the R.I. Department of Corrections, the Senate confirmed in a 32-4 vote Thursday afternoon. 

Voting against Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s pick were Democratic Sens. Sam Bell of Providence, Leonidas Raptakis of Coventry and Linda Ujifusa of Portsmouth. Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz, a North Smithfield Republican, also opposed Salisbury’s nomination. 

Salisbury has served as interim director since January 2023 following the departure of Patricia Coyne-Fague. He was hired in 2016 as deputy warden and was named deputy director in November 2020, according to his resume. He served as acting warden from March 2017 to February 2018. 

Salisbury was also the warden at the privately-run Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls from 2004 to 2010. 

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“He is well qualified to continue leading the Department of Corrections and based on his tenure thus far, he will continue to grow and succeed in this role,” said Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Dawn Euer, a Newport Democrat. “Few candidates have come before us and have been as thoroughly and publicly scrutinized as Mr. Salisbury.” 

Indeed, Salisbury’s nomination faced stiff opposition from the Rhode Island Brotherhood for Correctional Officers, which has blamed him for increases in prison fights since being named interim director. The union also filed a pair of ethics complaints against Salisbury to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission alleging nepotism and omission of required, out-of-state trips on his annual financial statement. 

“Wayne Salisbury is the wrong guy for such an important job,” union president Richard Ferruccio said at the Senate Committee on Judiciary’s hearing for Salisbury’s nomination Tuesday. 

Prison advocacy groups, meanwhile, have praised Salisbury for his focus on rehabilitation programs and for overseeing the department’s decision last year to limit disciplinary confinement to a maximum of 30 days. 

Salisbury will earn a $174,593 annual salary based on cabinet raises pitched by McKee, which took effect in May.