federal warden joins W.Va. Parole Board
W.Va. – After more than 30
years working in the U.S. corrections
system, most recently as warden of West Virginia’s largest federal prison
complex, Terence O’Brien is bringing his experience to the state Parole Board
as its new chairman.
Governor Jim Justice appointed O’Brien to
a vacancy on the nine-member board, effective May 27. Governor Justice also designated O’Brien to
serve as chair.
O’Brien began his career with the federal
Bureau of Prisons as a correctional officer in 1988. By 1998, O’Brien had risen to associate
warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla. He first served as a warden and chief
executive officer at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Ky., in
After several other administrative
postings, O’Brien became Senior Executive Service (SES) warden and CEO of the
Federal Correctional Complex at Hazelton, W.Va. in August 2010. O’Brien rounded out his federal service
overseeing that facility, which houses 1,500 high-security inmates along with
1,500 medium, 700 low and 130 minimum-security inmates at its various
facilities. He retired in February 2016.
“I am very proud to serve the State of West
Virginia and humbled by the appointment by Governor Justice,” Chairman O’Brien
said. “I will do all I can to bring a
corrections perspective to Parole Board hearings as well as keep the safety of
the State of West Virginia at the forefront.”
Part of the W.Va. Department of Military Affairs and Public
Safety, the Parole Board performs a crucial role in the state’s criminal
justice system. Hearing cases in three-member
panels, it contributes to public safety by facilitating as appropriate the
timely integration of offenders back into society as law-abiding citizens. Besides its independent oversight of conditional
releases for adult offenders, it also makes clemency recommendations to the governor.
West Virginia’s recidivism rate, which
reflects a relapse into criminal behavior within three years of release, was
most recently measured at 25.2 percent – a 10-year low. The national rate is around 67 percent. Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary
Jeff Sandy cited how West Virginia taxpayers also save $1 million for every 34
or so inmates paroled.
“O’Brien has developed a national
reputation for implementing programs to increase inmates’ success upon their
release into society,” Secretary Sandy said.
“With the current overcrowding in West Virginia prisons and jails, the
Parole Board needs a leader to ensure public safety and to make released
inmates productive members of society. DMAPS
believes O’Brien is such a leader.”