Corrections Department Director Justin Jones is living with an employee of his department, which has prompted some state officials to question whether he is in violation of state personnel policies, Jones said.
Jones, however, told The Oklahoman on Tuesday that he fully disclosed his living arrangement with Peggy Carter to then-Gov. Brad Henry, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and others when he was first hired.
Jones said he was told state statutes permitted the living arrangement, as long as he didn’t “improve” on it, because he was already living with Carter at the time he was hired.
“I’m pretty transparent,” he said.
The director said his understanding is that marriage would be considered an “improvement” on the relationship — and a violation — so the couple hasn’t married, although he hopes to marry her in the future.
Jones said he and Carter have been living together about 15 years, and he became director about eight years ago.
A state personnel policy says: “Employment of any person in a position which results in the immediate supervision by a relative, or permanent placement in a position resulting in relatives occupying positions within a division, facility, district, unit or office where one relative occupies a supervisory position in the ‘chain of command’ regarding another relative is prohibited.”
The policy defines “relative” as “spouse, child, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or first cousin to include any in-law, foster, step, half, and grand relationships; any relative residing in the same household; or any person with whom the employee has a domestic relationship.”
Carter works as assistant district supervisor of the Oklahoma County Jail Program within the Correction Department’s Division of Community Corrections and is paid $62,724 a year, records indicate.
Jones is director of the agency and is paid $135,709 a year.
Jones said he has had no input in Carter’s salary and didn’t even know what it was.
Carter’s salary appears comparable to others in similar positions.