CHARLESTON, WV (NEWS RELEASE) – 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 governments.
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 Association.
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.