Oz TV Wiki
James Devlin
First appearance "Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise" (episode 1.02)
Last appearance "Exeunt Omnes" (episode 6.08)
Reason/Cause End of Series
Position Governor
Gender Male
Age 45
Spouse None
Relatives None
Kill Count 0 (5 by reinstating execution)
Episode Count 27 Episodes
Portrayed by Zeljko Ivanek

James Devlin is the fictional governor in the state portrayed by Zeljko Ivanek.

Character summary[]

Devlin, the governor of the state, is hated by most of the inmates and some of the staff members at the Oswald State Correctional facilities as he proposes several anti-prisoner acts of legislation through his election campaign promise of "No perks for prisoners." Throughout the series, he is also on trial for various political charges but then things eventually get worse when the mayor who helped him get elected, Wilson Loewen arrives in Oz. From there Oz's staff learns some of Devlin's secrets that could lead to his eventual imprisonment. Devlin is frequently shown as opportunistic and morally dubious, often passing strict legislation in order to increase support. Despite his political image, Devlin is shown as a bullying sadistic elitist only out for himself, an image he doesn't bother trying to hide in private. He knows that the public views him as such but will vote for him because he gets the results they want.

Plot summary[]

Season 1[]

Devlin begins this season being elected as the State's governor from a campaign of "No Perks for Prisoners." Throughout the season, several basic freedoms that many inmates have such as smoking and conjugal visits are banned from prisoners statewide; as a result, tension builds within the prison walls. Devlin's philosophy is that being hard on crime will eventually reduce crime.

New Oz inmate Kareem Said and Emerald City Unit Manager Tim McManus openly oppose Devlin, whose legislative acts are enforced by both the Commissioner of Prisons and Leo Glynn Devlin also reinstates the death penalty for the first time in over 30 years and as a result, three inmates — Jefferson Keane Richard L'Italien and Donald Groves — are executed over the season. Inside of Oz, the inmates are infuriated by all of the anti-prisoner legislation and begin a riot, led by Saïd. Upon masterminding the riot, Saïd and inmates Ryan O'Reily, Scott Ross, Miguel Alvarez and Simon Adebisi send a list of demands out as a means of releasing the guards they have taken hostage in Emerald City. Glynn and McManus feel that several of the demands are actually reasonable, but Devlin has no interest in negotiation, ordering the SORT team to recapture Emerald City by any means necessary. As Em City is recaptured, two guards and six inmates die in the line of fire and Em City itself is destroyed.

Season 2[]

Following the riot, Devlin incurs some bad press for using excessive force. To save face, Devlin appoints law school dean Alvah Case to make an impartial investigation of the causes and effects of the riot. He offers Case a position as the State Attorney General if he finds and prosecutes the guilty parties. However, Case concludes in his investigation that no one in particular is at fault for the riot; furthermore, he says that, if the prisoners are guilty, so is Devlin, as his harsh legislation motivated the riot in the first place. Furious, Devlin tells Case he will not be State Attorney General, but Case then turns the tables on him stating that he'd rather run for Governor in the next election against Devlin. Left with no other option, Devlin announces Case's findings at a press conference to deflect the blame.

During the season, Tim McManus reopens Emerald City and begins a mandatory GED program for inmates who have not finished high school. Devlin decides that the state should end funding for the prison educational programs, however, and plans to announce it after the graduation ceremony. McManus turns the tables on Devlin at the ceremony by announcing the ending of the GED program earlier than Devlin anticipated. Off camera, Devlin tells McManus that this ploy will ultimately make no difference as to what the registered voters in the state think.

Things get somewhat complicated for Devlin when a new inmate named Jiggy Walker accuses Devlin of purchasing crack cocaine from him. As Devlin is actually innocent, he holds a press conference discrediting Walker and proving his innocence. Warden Glynn wonders if Devlin indeed bribed Walker as a means of setting up the whole press conference, which he apparently did not. Finally, during the month of ramadan Devlin decides to pardon a Muslim inmate as a means of increasing his popularity in both the Muslim and African-American communities throughout the state. He pardons Kareem Saïd, who then humiliates him at the press conference by refusing his pardon. Furthermore, Saïd accuses Devlin of instigating the riot.

Season 3[]

Devlin does not appear that often this season as he mainly deals with issues regarding Dr. Gloria Nathan. Dr. Nathan has problems with the Weigart corporation led by Dr. Frederick Garvey, who is looking to privatize the health care system within Oz. Things mainly center around inmate Miguel Alvarez, who Garvey takes off of his medication as a way of reducing the costs of medical care. Dr. Nathan ardently objects, as Alvarez has a history of depression and is potentially suicidal. When Miguel is found trying to hang himself within Solitary Confinement, Dr. Nathan ardently objects to him being taken off antidepressants and protests Garvey's profit-based motives. Dr. Garvey then makes an economical decision to fire Dr. Nathan — but is ultimately fired himself when Devlin pulls the plug on Weigart after Alvarez attempts suicide. It is even discovered that Garvey was at one time an illegal abortion clinic doctor and Devlin uses this as leverage to re-hire Dr. Nathan so that he can look compassionate to voters.

Season 4 Part I[]

It is re-election time and Alvah Case is running against Devlin for governor. Racial issues are present in this election, as the Republican Party has a tarnished relationship with the state's African American voters; the fact that Case is black doesn't help Devlin's chances.

As a result, Devlin's assistant Wendy asks Warden Leo Glynn, who is both black and as conservative as Devlin, if he would like to run as Devlin's Lieutenant Governor, Glynn says yes, even though he realizes that he would be serving as a token minority in an otherwise all-white campaign. The first step of the campaign involves the Governor's office pushing Glynn to fire Tim McManus. At this time, a gun-smuggling incident within Oz results in the death of several African American prisoners and staff members, while McManus behaves in a self-destructive and racially insensitive manner at the funeral of guard Joseph Howard Later two inmates, Agamemnon Busmalis and Miguel Alvarez, escape, and Devlin's office suggests that while a prison break is initially appealing to the public, the public wants the prisoners captured and returned promptly. Busmalis is captured and Glynn is then told that, according to a straw poll, the public's faith in the prison system has increased.

However, the execution of a female prisoner, Shirley Bellinger, is approaching and Glynn is told that the inevitable public backlash would be best balanced by recovering Miguel Alvarez. Devlin suggests to Glynn throughout the campaign that the voters like a politician they can personally relate to and that Glynn should expose some personal details pertaining to crime within his family to help better his image. At a press conference, Glynn reveals his brother's life sentance for murder and his daughter's rape as a means of telling the public he understands "all aspects of crime." To further improve his image, Glynn hires Martin Querns, an African American replacement for Tim McManus, to run Emerald City. Querns makes the prison also look statistically better by reducing violent incidents immediately, but his methods of discipline are not yet known to everyone outside of his cell block. Throughout the campaign, Clayton Hughes, the man who smuggled the gun into Oz, makes numerous speeches condemning Devlin as representing all that is evil within white society. Devlin tries to get Glynn, who is the closest thing Hughes has to a father, to shut him up, but is unsuccessful; Hughes ultimately attempts to assassinate Devlin at a press conference. When Devlin is shot, he is taken immediately to the ER. For a time after this, he needs to use a wheelchair. Hughes stands trial for attempted murder, while Glynn drops out of the race. Devlin stays in the race, however, and ultimately wins re-election.

Season 4 Part II[]

Devlin is inaugurated for his second term as governor but not before allowing a television crew to investigate happenings at Oz. The TV crew does not air their footage, and Devlin is then seen at Oz's annual warden's conference in crutches. While there, he mockingly tells Warden Glynn to thank Clayton Hughes for helping him win the election.

Devlin finds controversy in the death sentence of William Giles who wishes to be stoned to death. After Sister Pete makes an unsuccessful attempt to change the forms of capital punishment, other psychiatrists deem Giles as insane, and his death sentence is overturned.

Season 5[]

Devlin appoints a state liaison, Eleanor O'Connor, to Oz to make political concerns easier to address from Oz's staff to the Governor's office. O'Connor is also McManus' ex-wife. Devlin restates his support of the death penalty during the sentencing of Oz inmate Cyril O'Reily for murdering inmate Li Chen. As O'Reily's IQ is 51, Cyril's execution draws the ire of several liberal groups who protest for an appeal and overturned sentence. Devlin's public perception then diminishes courtesy of the support of Cyril O'Reily's protesters, although they are ultimately unable to save O'Reily.

Season 6[]

A race riot erupts in the city after city mayor Wilson Loewen, a powerful politician who helped Devlin get elected, goes on trial for his assistance to the Ku Klux Klan in a 1963 murder of two African American girls. The flames are fueled when Devlin off the record claims that he will pardon Loewen if he is convicted. As Loewen is found guilty, Devlin disagrees with the sentence but publicly states he will not pardon Loewen due to the volatility of the situation; Devlin further has him sent to Oz as a means of placating the African American community. However, Devlin states in Glynn's office that he will pardon Loewen after the public uproar dies out, and tells Glynn to protect Loewen while he is incarcerated. Loewen is housed in the safer Unit J, the unit for corrupt police officers, which currently houses Tobias Beecher and Alvin Yood, neither of whom is black. Loewen blackmails Devlin for an immediate pardon, saying that if Devlin refuses he will reveal his onetime ally's crimes. Devlin then uses his African American assistant Perry Loftus to use staff member Adrian Johnson to order Loewen's murder discretely. Inmates Willy Brandt and Lionel Kelsch set up the murder in the hospital ward on payment from Johnson.

In the meantime, to stopgag anti-death penalty protests, Devlin suggests Cyril O'Reily undergo ECT treatment. As this happens, O'Reily's family and attorneys are unable to stop it. As Detective McGorry and Glynn investigate Loewen's murder, they discover Johnson's involvement. Johnson calls Loftus to let them know what's happening, and Devlin then has McGorry replaced by Tarnowski as a means of speeding up the investigation and drawing suspicion away from himself. Glynn ultimately learns the truth, motivating Devlin to have Perry order Johnson to arrange for Glynn's death. Lionel Kelsch then kills Glynn after a payment from Johnson, angering Oz's staff members. Leo's death causes a speedy investigation from Tim McManus who pieces all the information he can together as a means of implicating Devlin's office in Loewen's murder. Devlin then orders Martin Querns, Glynn's replacement as Warden, to fire McManus.

As Oz is evacuated during an anthrax attack, Devlin realizes that, because of McManus, his days in office may be numbered. During the final episode, there were several official state signs that showed former warden Leo Glynn's name being removed for new warden Martin Querns. These signs continued to show James Devlin's name on it, suggesting he managed to remain in office. However, McManus is still shown in his position, making the ultimate outcome inconclusive.


Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4a
Season 4b
Season 5
Season 6

Kill Count[]



  • Jefferson Keane A.k.a. Tizi Ouzuo: Executed by lethal injection. Sentenced him to death after being found guilty for the murder of Julio Martinez. Ryan O'Reily & C.O Mike Healy arranged for Martinez and Jorge Vargas to kill Keane which ultimately backfired. (1997)
  • Richard L'Italien: Executed by lethal injection. Sentenced him to death after being found guilty for the murder of Jennifer Miller. (1997)
  • Donald Groves: Executed by firing squad. Sentenced him to death after being found guilty for the murder of Officer Lawrence Smith. (1997)
  • Shirley Bellinger: Executed by hanging. Sentenced her to death after being found guilty for the murder of her daughter Katie Bellinger. Sentence commuted Bellinger's sentence to life after she is discovered to be pregnant. Original sentence reinstated after she miscarried her second child. (2000)
  • Cyril O'Reily: Executed by electrocution. Sentenced him to death after being found guilty for the murder of Li Chen. (2002)