The new state prisons chief comes from Governor Nikki Haley’s staff.
Bryan Stirling, her chief of staff, is a former state prosecutor who worked for two private law firms before that.
He says this is a continuation of his work with the SC Attorney General’s office.
“I think I understand the criminal justice system through the AG’s office, working with the Legislature, working with the Sentencing Reform Act, watching that committee go through the process. I think I understand it very well.” Stirling said when asked about his qualifications
Corrections chief and former judge Bill Byars announced his retirement last month.
Stirling said in a Statehouse press conference Thursday that his priorities reflect those of the governor.
AUDIO: Stirling’s priorities as SCDC director (:19)
AUDIO: Gov. Haley says she learned from Byars that she cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to prison management. (:17)
The state corrections director oversees 26 institutions and about 22,000 inmates. State senators must approve of Stirling’s appointment when they return to session in January, but most observers believe he will have the necessary support.
The South Carolina Democratic Party immediately criticized Haley’s selection of Sterling:
“Governor Haley continued an alarming pattern today, once again appointing political staff to head a state agency where they have little experience or qualifications in the given field. In previous administrations, South Carolina had leaders at the Department of Corrections like Ellis MacDougall and William Leeke, who made the position one of substance and expertise and took us out of the dark ages. These leaders knew how to run prisons and deal with prisoners, but Mr. Stirling’s primary experience is in dealing with politics and politicians. “