Governor Mary Fallin commends new head of state's prison system

Published: Jan. 17, 2014 at 6:15 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._Governor Mary Fallin has commended the Oklahoma Board of Corrections for hiring Robert C. Patton to head the state's prison system.

Patton has served the past four years as division director for the Arizona DOC. He has 28 years of experience in corrections, rising from the ranks of an entry-level corrections officer to division director. He has a master's degree in public administration from Northern Arizona University.

"Robert C. Patton is an experienced and skilled manager," Fallin said. "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," Fallin said. "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."

Governor Fallin said that the status quo at the Department of Corrections is unacceptable. She has asked Patton to work with her, the Corrections Board, and his agency on four immediate priorities. These priorities include: increasing safety for both guards and inmates at all facilities in the state; improving employee compensation packages to help with recruiting and retaining qualified corrections officers; increasing greater oversight of private corrections facilities and ensuring those facilities compliment DOC operations; and reforming DOC's internal operations to be more efficient and effective.

Governor Fallin also asked Patton to evaluate the DOC's implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act and seek ways to ensure the programs' success. JRI is a corrections reform package meant to emphasize rehabilitation and treatment for non-violent offenders.

About Robert Patton

As division director of operations for the Arizona Department of Corrections, Patton oversaw 40,000 inmates and 10,000 employees. He oversaw all prison and community corrections operations, which included 10 state prison complexes and five private prisons. He also was responsible for community corrections, which supervised 7,000 offenders on release status.

Patton also managed a $1 billion annual budget and various issues that had a direct impact on public safety.

Before being named division director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Patton served from June 2006 to September 2009 as the agency's security operations administrator. His duties included security issues within the prisons, policy oversight of all areas pertaining to offender operations, technology transfer and product review, and review of staffing for all complexes.

Prior to that he served a year as director of corrections for Douglas County, Neb., where he managed a 1,200-bed county correctional facility and community corrections. He managed 510 employees and a $36 million budget.

He also served a year as a warden of an Arizona Department of Corrections prison in Douglas. The prison had five prison units housing 2,500 inmates as well as a 70-bed detention unit.