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Oklahoma Corrections Panel Selects New Director

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The Board of Corrections has selected Robert Patton as the new Director of Corrections for the Department of Corrections. [Photo Courtesy: Arizona Department of Corrections.] The Board of Corrections has selected Robert Patton as the new Director of Corrections for the Department of Corrections. [Photo Courtesy: Arizona Department of Corrections.]
LEXINGTON, Oklahoma -

The board that oversees the state's overcrowded prison system has selected a new director.

The Board of Corrections has selected Robert Patton as the new Director of Corrections for the Department of Corrections.  This is the first selection in 8 years.

Patton is currently the Assistant Director of Corrections in Arizona. Patton has been Arizona's division director of operations for four years and has been in corrections for over 30 years. His salary will be $160,000 per year.

"Robert C. Patton is an experienced and skilled manager," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. "He knows how to run an agency and manage a large budget. Most importantly, he is dedicated to keeping his prisons safe for both guards and inmates."

Fallin said that Patton shared her commitment to being both "tough on crime" and "smart on crime."

"Violent criminals who present a danger to society deserve to be in prison," said Fallin. "We aren't looking for shortcuts to put them back on the street.

"However, we know Oklahoma has many non-violent offenders in our prisons. These are people whose lives have taken a wrong turn due to factors like drug and alcohol abuse and other mental health issues. They should be given treatment and rehabilitated. We believe many of these men and women can once again become constructive members of society: gainfully employed, responsible for their children and families, and not a drain on taxpayer dollars," Fallin said.

The seven-member Board of Corrections met in a closed-door session Friday to discuss the selection and salary of new director.

The longtime head of the agency, Justin Jones, announced his resignation last summer amid highly publicized clashes with the governor's office and legislative leaders over the agency's finances and the growing use of private prisons to house state inmates.

The board also heard from officials with the private company Avalon Correctional Services about the department's decision to immediately order inmates out of a Tulsa halfway house operated by the company. The department cited concerns about infractions at the facility, including brawls among inmates.  No decision will be made today on Avalon Halfway House.

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