Text size A  A  A
Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

Longtime federal warden joins WV Parole Board as chair


May 29, 2018

Longtime federal warden joins W.Va.  Parole Board as chair


CHARLESTON, 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 February 2004. 


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.”



# # #

LAWRENCE MESSINA (304) 558-2930 Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov