Dr. Mary L. Livers
Dr. Mary L. Livers, Deputy Secretary, LA Office of Juvenile Justice
Progressive-minded and vitally interested in corrections reform, Dr. Mary L. Livers returned to her native Louisiana in 2007 to work toward systemic reform of the state’s juvenile justice system. Dr. Livers was attracted to OJJ’s reform efforts that began in 2003, and today she is a driving force in the transformation of juvenile justice in Louisiana.
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Livers served in three states’ corrections agencies for over 30 years before returning to Louisiana.
Named Deputy Secretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice in October 2008, Dr. Livers is a cabinet-level agency head reporting directly to the Governor.
Having spent her entire career as a change agent working to improve the quality of life for adults and juveniles involved with the criminal justice system, Dr. Livers has tirelessly embraced and promoted just and humane treatment and is a strong proponent of evidence-based programming.
Louisiana juvenile justice is in the process of radical, systemic change, from community-based interventions to the deep end of secure care. Thanks to evidence-based programming put into place on Dr. Livers’ watch, OJJ’s recidivism numbers are going down and success rates for youth are rising.
Dr. Livers has taken the lead in working with stakeholders including the judiciary, district attorneys, community providers and advocacy groups to provide for the treatment needs of at-risk and adjudicated youth in the least restrictive environment and to provide needed services for families. As a result, today, Louisiana’s secure facilities house 80 percent fewer youth than a decade ago.
Dr. Livers believes that motivated and educated staff provide better and more humane care for inmates and juveniles. She has dedicated her career to actively promoting excellence and professionalism in the field of corrections, and she strongly supports leadership development for her staff. She believes in the hands-on approach and often visits OJJ’s secure facilities and field offices.
After earning both a Bachelor’s degree and Masters in Social Work, specialized in corrections and community intervention, from Louisiana State University, she began her career with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, becoming assistant warden of a women’s prison at the age of 24.
Moving to Oklahoma, Dr. Livers served as deputy warden of a male prison/diagnostic center, was the first woman on its CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team), and was the first female warden of an Oklahoma prison since the 1930s. During the next 19 years, she held progressively responsible positions before being appointed Associate Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. As second-in-command of Oklahoma’s correctional system, Dr. Livers oversaw 17 correctional institutions, as well as programs including inmate classification, industry and agricultural services, accreditation, environmental health, safety and sanitation.
During this time she earned a Ph.D in adult and higher education, with staff development and training specialities, from University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Livers then served as assistant secretary for operations of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections, with oversight of corrections, probation and parole and the Baltimore City Jail.
Dr. Livers is the President-Elect of the American Correctional Association (ACA), has served as Treasurer, served a term on its Board of Governors and been a member of numerous committees. She is a charter member of the Association of Women Executives in Corrections (AWEC). A significant accomplishment was her collaboration with other professionals on creation of a pilot training model for women in corrections, that was adopted and used by the National Institute for Corrections.
In September 2011 Dr. Livers received a national award from AWEC at its annual conference. She is the recipient of AWEC’s 2011 Legacy Award, presented annually to an outstanding professional who has encouraged the development and contributions of senior and executive women in corrections.