Oklahoma Prisons Boss Quits After Botched Executions

Nothing to do with investigations, spokeswoman says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2015 7:42 AM CST
Robert Patton, director of Oklahoma Prisons, listens to a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.    (Sue Ogrocki)
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(Newser) – The head of Oklahoma's prison system, who presided over two botched lethal injections and a third that was called off because the wrong drug was delivered, announced his resignation Friday amid an investigation into what went wrong with the executions. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said in a news release that he will resign effective Jan. 31, but will begin taking accrued leave on Dec. 25. He said he has accepted a position in Arizona to be closer to family. A spokeswoman told the AP that the resignation is not connected to the investigation by Attorney General Scott Pruitt. "It's to go spend more time with his five grandchildren in Arizona," she said.

Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement Friday saying she appreciated Patton's efforts to keep prisons safe and embrace reform efforts to emphasize rehabilitation and treatment for nonviolent offenders. "I regret his departure," Fallin said. But Fallin had declined to publicly endorse Patton after problems with the latest scheduled execution, even after he was given a vote of confidence by the Board of Corrections. Pruitt, through a spokesman, declined to comment on Patton's resignation or his investigation. At Pruitt's request, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued an indefinite stay of all scheduled executions. (Read more Oklahoma stories.)

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