Robert Patton

Robert Patton is director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. 

OKLAHOMA CITY — The director of Oklahoma's prison system who presided over two botched lethal injections is resigning amid an investigation into what went wrong with the executions.

Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton announced Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, he will resign effective Jan. 31. He will begin taking accrued leave on Dec. 25.

Patton said in a news release he had accepted a position in Arizona to be closer to his family.

Last month, Patton appeared before a multicounty grand jury that is investigating how the wrong lethal injection drugs were used during an execution in January. The same wrong drugs were delivered to the prison just hours before an execution was to be carried out in September.

Patton had been on the job a few months when execution of Clayton Lockett was botched in April 2014.

“I appreciate the members of the board of corrections for their continued support during my time as director,” Patton said in a press release. “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.

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.

“Patton has upheld the mission of the agency and helped to ensure public safety,” Gross said. “On behalf of the board and the Department of Corrections, I would like to thank him for his service to the state and wish him well as he returns to Arizona.”

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Associated Press and Enid News & Eagle police and court reporter Cass Rains contributed to this story.

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