Patton exceeded his expectations during a 20-year career in which he moved around Arizona to work in various prison complexes until he eventually became a warden. He retired in September 2005 and receives a $36,737 annual pension from Arizona for his service. As Oklahoma’s corrections director, Patton will earn a $160,000 salary.
After retiring, Patton worked less than a year in Omaha, Neb., as the director of corrections for Douglas County. He returned to Arizona in June 2006 to become an administrator for the state Corrections Department.
By September 2009, Patton had become the department’s division director.
Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he was saddened to see Patton leave.
“He has served in multiple capacities in his years with this agency, starting as an officer working graveyard shift, advancing through the ranks, ultimately becoming the Division Director for Operations,” Ryan said, adding, “It’s a time-consuming and pressure-filled job, and Robert has done it exceptionally well.”
Patton said he’s never held another professional job outside of corrections, and he doesn’t plan on changing in the near future.
“It gets in your blood,” Patton said. “I told the governor that Oklahoma is my last job. I intend, good Lord willing, to be the Oklahoma director for 12 years, retire at 62, and come back to Arizona and enjoy my kids and grandkids and die as an old man.”
Craig Harris is a senior reporter for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism service that produces in-depth and investigative content on public-policy issues in the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to www.oklahomawatch.org.
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