The man who is responsible for overseeing South Carolina’s prison systems says he wishes to retire at the end of next month.
South Carolina Department of Corrections director William Byars, Jr., announced Friday that he is retiring effective September 30. Byars has served as the director since January 2011, when he was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley and confirmed by the state Senate.
“After many wonderful years in public service, I’ve decided that the time is right to finally slow down and enjoy more time with my family,” Byars said in a statement. “I have had the pleasure of working under four governors in various capacities and have especially enjoyed my relationship with Governor Haley over the last three years. She has taken a particular interest in the Department of Corrections and has worked closely with us in helping make some much needed improvements to our facilities and equipment and in getting salary increases for correctional officers at our maximum security prisons.”
Byars suffered a mild stroke during his first year at the helm. However, he eventually returned to work and is credited with helping the agency eliminate several years of deficit spending. The agency also closed some prison facilities under his watch and saw its inmate population decline by roughly 1,100 over the past two years. Corrections officials also say recidivism rates are currently at a 20-year-low of 27.5%.
Prior to his appointment by Haley, Byars served for eight years as director of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice under former Gov. Mark Sanford. Byars came to DJJ after working as Director of the Children’s Law Office at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He also served for ten years as a Family Court Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
“Judge Byars’ service to our state has been beyond exemplary and South Carolina is a better place because of it,” Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement. “His accomplishments at both the Department of Corrections and DJJ standout as models for instituting reform minded government that effectively and efficiently work for taxpayers. We will miss his tireless dedication and professionalism and wish him and his family the very best in all their future endeavors.”