Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton announced his resignation Friday afternoon. His resignation takes effect January 31, but he will be on accrued leave beginning December 25.
Patton has already accepted a position in Arizona to be closer to family.
“I appreciate the members of the board of corrections for their continued support during my time as director,” Patton said in a statement. “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 Fallin and her staff on initiatives to improve corrections within the state.”
Patton has served as director since January 2014. During his time in Oklahoma, he has led initiatives aimed at improving the DOC for its employees, the public and offenders housed at statewide facilities.
“Since joining the DOC, Director Patton has initiated positive change within the organization. He has stabilized the agency’s budget, reformed internal operations to be more efficient, and launched a recruiting effort that has resulted in increased staffing levels of correctional officers,” said Oklahoma Board of Corrections Chairman Kevin Gross.
But as director, Patton has also seen his share of controversy especially surrounding the execution of Richard Glossip. In September, Glossip was granted a stay of execution due to a chemical called potassium acetate being delivered to the prison for the injection, instead of potassium chloride that Oklahoma guidelines call for.
In the months since, Patton's past was called into question over Oklahoma executions.
An interim director will be named prior to Patton’s last day in the office. The board of corrections will immediately launch a national search to fill the position.