After Controversial Term, Head of Oklahoma Prisons Resigns

by | December 7, 2015

By Parker Perry

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Friday afternoon its director is resigning from his post.

Robert Patton -- who has served as director for a little under two years -- will resign effective Dec. 25. The reason for his resignation, according to a DOC press release, is because he has taken a job to be closer to his family in Arizona.

"I appreciate the members of the Board of Corrections for their continued support during my time as director," Patton said. "It has been an honor to serve this agency, the state of Oklahoma and to work with the talented people who make up the department. It has also been a privilege to work with Governor (Mary) Fallin and her staff on initiatives to improve corrections within the state."

Patton's time as DOC director has been filled with controversy, mostly centering on failures in the state's executions of condemned inmates. In April, the state botched the execution of Clayton Lockett. Patton oversaw a complete revamp of its execution chamber and appeared to have successfully executed Charles Warner in January. However, it was later learned the state used the wrong drug in the execution.

Patton faced understaffing issues in prisons, too. However, recently the DOC has touted more hires and Jackie Brannon Correctional Center is fully staffed for the first times in years.

The DOC said in the release an interim director will be appointed after Patton's last day and the Board of Corrections will immediately launch a national search for a replacement.

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