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Department of Corrections Director Resigns Amid Investigations Into Botched Executions

Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections

The director of Oklahoma's prison system is the second high-ranking official to  step down amid an investigation into a series of botched executions in the  state. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton announced this afternoon in a press release he will resign effective Jan. 31 and will begin taking accrued leave on Dec. 25. 

In October, the department announced that Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden  Anita Trammell would no longer report to work and would use accrued leave until her retirement date of March 1. Trammell was inside the state's execution chamber in April 2014 when a botched  lethal injection left inmate Clayton Lockett writhing on the gurney and mumbling. His execution lasted for 43 minutes. The state's investigation, led by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, began in  October.

NewsOK.com reports that Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins said the resignation "has nothing to do with the grand jury investigation" and that Patton plans to take a job in Arizona. He was previously employed by the Arizona Department of Corrections for almost 30 years before accepting the job in Oklahoma.

Governor Mary Fallin released a press release accepting Patton's resignation. In it, she says she appreciated Patton's efforts "to keep our state prisons safe for both correctional officers and inmates."

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