Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones, whose agency drew criticism from the governor and legislative leaders recently over a lack of fiscal candor, has announced he will resign, effective Oct. 1.
“It is just time to turn the page and move on to another chapter in my life,” Jones, 57, told the Tulsa World on Monday. Efforts by The Oklahoman to reach Jones directly for comment were unsuccessful.
Jones informed his executive staff Monday of his intention to step down, said Jerry Massie, department spokesman.
Massie said Jones did not give a reason for his decision.
Jones began working for the Corrections Department as a probation and parole officer in 1977 and worked his way up through the agency before eventually being selected to head the agency in 2005.
At times, he clashed with policymakers who advocated putting more inmates in private prisons.
“You know, just because it is legal doesn't make it ethically and morally right for shareholders to make a profit off of incarceration of our fellow citizens,” Jones told the Tulsa World. “I guess with my Christian upbringing, there has always been a conflict with that.”
Gov. Mary Fallin expressed shaken confidence in Jones' leadership of the agency in April after learning his staff had been urgently requesting a $6.4 million supplemental appropriation at a time when it had about $22 million in three agency revolving funds.
The agency withdrew its request for the supplemental appropriation April 15.
The Oklahoman subsequently obtained documents revealing that corrections officials had grossly underreported the amount of cash held in two key agency revolving funds to Fallin as she was preparing her state budget recommendations for each of the past two years.