CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A career federal prosecutor is now overseeing West Virginia’s prison system, state Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy announced.
Governor Jim Justice appointed Betsy Jividen as Commissioner of the W.Va. Division of Corrections, which is part of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, effective Monday.
“Jividen has been a tough federal prosecutor and Governor Justice chose her for her leadership skills at the national level, where she developed programs to give inmates the necessary skills to be successful upon their release,” Secretary Sandy said. “Like many of Governor Justice’s selections, Jividen could have obtained a far more lucrative new career. Her love of West Virginia, however, directed her to continue to be a public servant and make a difference in corrections.”
Jividen’s service as a federal prosecutor stretches back four decades. She was sworn in as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1980, the first woman to be named to that position in the Northern District of West Virginia. Having handled all manner of civil and criminal cases, she served as Civil Chief, Senior Litigation Counsel, and two terms as acting and interim U.S. Attorney. She was named First Assistant United States Attorney by three different U.S. Attorneys.
Jividen served as acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia during most of 2017, until U.S. Attorney William J. Powell was sworn in on Oct. 13 following his appointment by President Trump and confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
“Betsy Jividen is an outstanding choice as Commissioner of the Division of Corrections,” Powell said. “She has worked for the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of West Virginia for 37 years. The State of West Virginia is getting a hard-working and dedicated professional who has worked on corrections issues for years. The Division needs someone of her caliber and I know she will do a great job.”
Jividen has extensive experience with corrections issues. She represented the Federal Bureau of Prisons, its staff, and officers for more than 25 years in lawsuits filed by inmates. She supervised the prosecution of crimes occurring inside federal correctional facilities for more than 10 years. She has also served as a Reentry Specialist, focused on rehabilitation and reentry programs aimed at reducing recidivism and ensuring public safety.
“I want to thank Governor Justice for the honor of this appointment,” Jividen said. “I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to continue serving with the brave and dedicated men and women of the corrections community and to be part of the important work they are doing.”
The W.Va. Division of Corrections operates 15 prisons, work-release centers and related facilities and has more than 2,000 employees including more than 1,000 correctional officers. More than 7,000 offenders are currently sentenced to the custody of Corrections, which continues to implement West Virginia’s Justice Reinvestment reforms.
Jividen takes over from acting Commissioner Mike Coleman, who is also deputy director of Correctional Operations for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. Coleman will continue in that latter role.