PINE BLUFF — Ray Hobbs, the director of the Arkansas Department of Correction, announced his retirement late Friday afternoon.

PINE BLUFF — Ray Hobbs, the director of the Arkansas Department of Correction, announced his retirement late Friday afternoon.


In a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe, members of the Board of Corrections and ADC staff, Hobbs said after a nearly 40-year career — 39 years and 10 months — he has decided to retire Nov. 1.


"I have expressed my appreciation to Governor Beebe for the opportunity to serve as Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction," Hobbs said in the letter. "I am expressing my appreciation for the wisdom shared with me by the Board of Corrections during good times and during difficult times."


Hobbs also expressed his appreciation to the ADC staff "your commitment, dedication and loyalty to carrying out the mission of the Arkansas Department of Correction to protect the public, staff and inmates every day. I am forever grateful to have served with you in the mission."


"Please stay safe and secure at all times," Hobbs said in the letter. "I continue to pray that each and every member of my ADC family go home safely after serving this agency."


Department spokeswoman Shea Wilson said Friday afternoon that Hobbs had been planning to announce his retirement but told staff members, "he was so pleased that we have (Timothy) Buffington back in custody because now I can leave with the count clear."


Inmate Buffington escaped from employee housing near the Pine Bluff Complex on June 21 and surrendered to authorities Thursday. He is now at Varner Supermax in Lincoln County.


Wilson said the Board of Corrections will make the decision on who will replace Hobbs.


"They have a regular meeting at the end of October but they will take that matter up before then," Wilson said. "They may appoint an interim director or they may name somebody permanently. The decision will be up to them.


"Director Hobbs has had a good career and he’s been doing it for almost 40 years," Wilson said. "Now, he’s looking forward to moving on to the next chapter in his life."


According to a bio of Hobbs supplied by ADC, he began his career in 1975 as an entry-level corrections officer and moved through the ranks as sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major of security, then was promoted to assistant warden and then warden.


In 1994, Hobbs was promoted to the position of assistant director of institutions, deputy director of institutions in 1998 and chief deputy director in 2001.


He became director of the state prison system on June 29, 2010, replacing former director Larry Norris.