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January 18, 2014

Arizona prison official to head Okla. corrections

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

The governor said her priorities include increasing guard and inmate safety; improving employee compensation; greater oversight of private prisons; and reforming the department’ internal operations.

Patton said his first order of business is to ensure public, staff and inmate safety.

“Salary is an important factor, make no mistake about it, but there’s a lot of other things ... that makes your life better,” as a prison employee, Patton said. “The first day, the first hour that I’m here I expect to get a full briefing on where we are population-wise, where we are staffing-wise and where we are offender-safety wise.”

Patton, who said his career began in 1985 in Arizona as a prison guard, plans to begin work in a few weeks.

The board also heard from the head of Avalon Correctional Services Inc. The department sent a letter to the private prison operator on Tuesday saying it would remove all of the more than 200 state inmates from an Avalon halfway house in Tulsa because of infractions that included a brawl among inmates.

Brian Costello, Avalon president and chief operating officer, offered two proposals in an effort to keep state inmates at the facility.

Avalon will remove the facility administrator and post a full-time, around-the-clock Corrections Department monitor at the halfway house until any agency investigations are complete, Costello said.

Gross, the board chairman, said no action could be taken on the proposals because they were not listed as an agenda item.

“I encourage you to continue to work with DOC leadership to resolve these issues,” Gross said to Costello.

“We’re going to work with the DOC, try to make sure we do everything they want us to do,” Costello said after the meeting.

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