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The Mount Olive Correctional Complex, which opened in February 1995, replaced the 129-year-old West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville. Located in Fayette County, about six miles from Montgomery, Mount Olive primarily houses maximum-security prisoners. The prison is administered by the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a branch of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Planning, design, and construction of the $61.8 million complex took 11 years. The facility was designed to house up to 802 male prisoners, more than any other prison in the state. By 1999, Mount Olive was operating above capacity, prompting the addition of bunk beds to some housing units. The facility now has beds for 1,1030 inmates but has housed nearly double that number in the 2020s.

The 120-acre complex comprises 16 buildings, which include eight housing units, a post office, power plant, warehouse, fuel depot, maintenance garage, hospital and medical clinic, classrooms, gymnasium and chapel, library, and laundry. The state’s diagnostic unit, which conducts court-ordered evaluations of inmates, is located at Mount Olive. Eight acres of the complex is surrounded by a one-mile-long fence.

Industries at the facility include the tag plant, where license plates are made, the sign shop, validation sticker shop, and the soap factory. The prison’s education department offers classes in adult basic education, social skills, graphic arts, carpentry, automotive repair, and welding. Public tours of the facility are available.

Since 2007, the state has operated a work camp on the grounds of Mount Olive. Slayton Work Camp, with beds for 48 minimum-security inmates, provides labor for the Division of Highways and other organizations in Fayette, Clay Kanawha, Nicholas, and Raleigh counties.

The state operates 10 other correctional centers that house minimum- and maximum-security inmates. They are Anthony Correctional Center, Beckley Correctional Center, Denmar Correctional Center, Huttonsville Correctional Center, Lakin Correctional Center, Martinsburg Correctional Center, Northern Correctional Facility, Ohio County Correctional Complex, Pruntytown Correctional Center, and St. Marys Correctional Center. The state also operates work release centers in Charleston and Huntington.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread coronavirus outbreaks occurred among inmates and staff at the correctional facilities, with at least 32 deaths between 2020 and early 2022.

Last Revised on July 24, 2023

Related Articles


West Virginia Blue Book. Senate Clerk, State of West Virginia. Charleston, 1998.

Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Mount Olive Prison." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 24 July 2023. Web. 12 July 2024.


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