(Posted April 12, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Both of the correctional institutions in Madison County have new wardens.
Mike DeMartino is the new warden at London Correctional Institution. He took over for Jenny Hildebrand who now serves as warden at Madison Correctional Institution. Both started their new jobs on April 2. The two institutions sit across from one another on State Route 56 in London.
DeMartino and Hildebrand have already talked about continuing and strengthening the connection between the two institutions. The facilities conduct joint trainings, and their respective safety and security analysis teams work together. London Correctional recently hosted an Easter egg hunt for the families of employees of both facilities. The event was coordinated by the facilities’ Women In Corrections groups.
“We’re all a family, regardless of what building we walk into in the mornings,” DeMartino said. “I’m very passionate about keeping the unity between the facilities.”
“It’s about building a bond and supporting one another,” Hildebrand said.
Mike DeMartino – London Correctional
DeMartino’s career in corrections in Ohio started 17 years ago. He first worked for the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Warren County, starting as a correction officer then holding the positions of case manager, lieutenant, and, finally, security threat group coordinator.
In 2015, DeMartino transferred to Madison Correctional in London where he served as a captain while the institution was converting one side of the facility from Level 2 to Level 3. He became deputy warden of operations at Pickaway Correctional in 2020, then transferred to Chillicothe Correctional in 2021 where he worked as deputy warden of administration until taking the warden position at London Correctional this month. This marks his first position as warden.
DeMartino said his past experience sets him up well for his new job.
“I worked in and out of the security ranks and took temporary work assignments in various administrative positions. It gives you a different outlook and makes you a lot more well-rounded,” he said.
DeMartino said he is spending his first few weeks at London Correctional getting to know the lay of the land, so to speak.
“Every warden comes into a facility and has an idea of what they want to do, but I think you need to take it all in first,” he said.
He is concentrating on meeting with staff, getting to know everyone’s job dynamics and programs, and becoming familiar with the facility as a whole.
That said, DeMartino has established some goals that he has shared with the staff, the top one being safety and security.
“We want a secure facility to ensure the community is safe which, in turn, means safety for our staff and the incarcerated adults entrusted to our care,” he said.
He also stated that a common goal staff-wide is to provide the facility’s incarcerated persons with the best rehabilitation possible.
“I have a social work background. That’s why I push for programming, education, and coping mechanisms,” said DeMartino who has a bachelor’s degree in social work. “We are moving away from the lock-and-feed mentality to a more holistic approach to rehabilitation.”
The majority of individuals incarcerated at the institution will be released back into the community at some point, he explained. The facility’s mission is to help equip those individuals for the transition. The facility’s mission statement is to “instill hope in the hearts and minds of those who enter this facility.”
London Correctional is a Level 1 and Level 2 facility, meaning it houses minimum and medium security incarcerated persons. The facility’s current population is 1,798.
Jenny Hildebrand – Madison Correctional
Hildebrand has worked for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) for 33.5 years. She replaces Leon Hill who left the Madison Correctional warden seat to take a job with the state Department of Youth Services.
During her career, Hildebrand has worked at nine ODRC facilities, starting in 1989 as a correction officer at the Franklin Pre-Release Center in Columbus. She has worked at London Correctional twice during her career and at Madison Correctional three times. She has done everything from security and unit management to mental health, business administration, and creating a sustainability plan to save energy, increase efficiency, and increase conservation efforts across that state’s corrections system.
\Her new job at Madison Correctional marks her third time serving as a warden. She first headed up the Franklin Medical Center, a 500-bed facility in Columbus for incarcerated adults. She then became warden at London Correctional in October 2021.
One of Hildebrand’s top priorities as warden at Madison Correctional is to recruit and retain staff. The institution currently has 111 vacancies at the correction officer position. She plans to employ the same tactics she used at London Correctional to fill out the ranks.
“We’re instituting a mentoring program and beefing up our hiring practices,” she said.
The mentoring program is designed to build an atmosphere of teamwork and, thereby, help with staff retention. The mantra, Hildebrand said, is “one team, one purpose.”
Like DeMartino, Hildebrand also places heavy emphasis on the rehabilitation piece. Programming and resources are key for those who are incarcerated at the facility, she said.
Madison Correctional already has a number of rehabilitative programs in place, from drug and alcohol recovery services to religious programming.
Three more programs are just getting started at the institution. They include: Dogs For Better Lives through which incarcerated individuals will train puppies to become service dogs; the Harmony Project that brings individuals together to sing and perform; and Embark which provides additional faith-based programming.
Hildebrand said she is glad for the opportunity to return to Madison Correctional to work.
“It’s a great place with a lot of good people. There’s great staff support and support for the incarcerated persons,” she said.
Madison Correctional is primarily a Level 1 and Level 2 facility, housing minimum and medium security incarcerated persons. The institution also serves 36 Level 3 individuals for programming. The facility’s current population is 2,190.