Justice names Coleman acting W.Va. prisons chief
W.Va. – He started his career as a correctional officer in 1984,
and survived the New Year’s Day riot at the Moundsville penitentiary two years
later. Now Mike Coleman will oversee West Virginia’s prison system.
Governor Jim Justice on Tuesday named
Coleman acting Commissioner of Corrections, succeeding a retiring Loita
Butcher. Most recently, Coleman has been Deputy Director of Correctional
Operations for Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy.
“I am honored and humbled to be appointed
by Gov. Justice to lead the nearly 2,400 employees of the Division of
Corrections,” Coleman said. “I am looking forward to working with employees
from all levels across the agency and with Cabinet Secretary Jeff Sandy, to
continue to seek improvements in working conditions and pay for our employees
and operational efficiencies with our counterparts at the Regional Jail
Authority and Division of Juvenile Services.”
The Division of Corrections is the largest
agency within the Cabinet Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety,
with nearly 2,400 full-time employees and a $255 million budget. It operates 16
facilities around the state, including the maximum-security Mount Olive
Correctional Complex and several work-release centers.
More than 7,100 adult offenders are
currently sentenced to the Division of Corrections, which also supervises the
state’s parolees. DOC oversees Correctional Industries, which supplies goods
and services to state agencies, county school systems, and county and local
Coleman served as a correctional officer
for more than a decade. He was among several officers taken hostage during the
1986 riot; all were ultimately released. Coleman resumed his post at the W.Va.
Penitentiary, rising to the rank of sergeant and becoming commander of the
Protective Custody Unit and a training officer.
Coleman has also been a member of the
Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT). Promoted to lieutenant in 1992,
Coleman oversaw Corrections Academy training for its basic, firearms and use of
force coursework. When the state opened the Mount Olive in 1995, Coleman was
named executive assistant to the warden. He served in several administrative
posts at that facility, including as acting warden for more than a year.
The leadership at Corrections tapped
Coleman for a series of statewide roles starting in 2005, when he was named
DOC’s Director of Security. He went on to serve as Assistant Commissioner in
2013, overseeing wardens and administrators, and as Deputy Commissioner in
2015. Secretary Sandy added him to the department’s leadership team earlier
this year to assist with the ongoing consolidation and streamlining of West
Virginia’s correctional agencies.
Coleman has pursued best-practices
training throughout his DOC career. He is a member or is otherwise affiliated with
Kairos Prison Ministry, the American Correctional Association, the
Correctional Peace Officers Foundation, and the National Tactical Officers
Butcher became the first woman to oversee
West Virginia’s prison system when Governor Justice appointed her acting
commissioner in March. She too was a veteran of the agency, having most previously
served as assistant commissioner and chief of staff. She first joined the
Division of Corrections in March 1994, and her career in law enforcement and
public safety spanned more than three decades. She was recently honored as a “West
Virginia Wonder Woman” by WV Living magazine. She retired Oct. 31.