Robert Patton’s career as Oklahoma corrections director is reviewed by The Frontier. Patton’s resignation, which was announced Friday, is characterized as part of the “fallout” from controversial executions in the state. In the fall, State Penitentiary Warden Anita Trammell retired amid a probe by Attorney General Scott Pruitt into what went wrong with Richard Glossip's planned execution. Glossip's death sentence was already mired in controversy and Oklahoma was just a few hours from killing him when it realized it didn’t have the correct drug for the procedure. Later, it became apparent that the state had used that drug on Charles Warner in January even though it's not approved under the protocol that had been challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This year, The Frontier says, Patton was eager to chat about the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, the state’s long, often-derailed attempt at prison reform. Many provisions of the initiative had not been funded or implemented and it appeared that warnings about inaction came true: Oklahoma’s prisons were bursting at the seams. Reporter Cary Aspinwall wrote in 2011 about Oklahoma's highest-in-the-nation female incarceration rate. On Patton’s departure, despite several new laws and studies, the state still is the nation’s first per capita in sending women to prison.