Photo courtesy of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday announced a new executive director for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.
Eden Hendrick started at DJJ as deputy director and was then named acting director in September 2021. The appointment to acting director quickly followed the resignation of former executive director Freddie Pough.
Pough resigned following mass scrutiny from legislators and DJJ staff.
Multiple DJJ staffers staged a walkout in June 2021 to protest their working conditions. Pough’s department also received a negative review from the Legislative Audit Council.
“We will immediately begin working to find the best possible person to lead DJJ at this time,” McMaster said in a press statement following Pough’s resignation.
According to a report from the governor’s office, Hendrick did well in her time as acting director and has already begun several reform initiatives within the department.
“Her unique experience has allowed her to quickly identify challenges the agency faces and – most importantly – immediately begin making necessary changes to overcome each one. Under her leadership, DJJ will continue to improve,” McMaster said.
Hendrick is described as having “focused her efforts on employee retention and recruitment, facility upgrades, and increased mental health services for DJJ youth.”
Hendrick graduated from the University of Georgia in 2002 and earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2005. She previously served as a prosecutor, assistant general counsel, and is a former member of the Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
She has many goals for the department and aims to move forward from the position’s controversies of last fall.
“As the director of the DJJ, it is my goal to improve the outcomes for the youth system wide, but also ensure that all DJJ employees have a safe and secure working environment,” said Hendrick.
Hendrick’s appointment must still be approved by the S.C. Senate.
“We are lucky to have someone talented, experienced, and dedicated that is willing to take on this formidable task and get the DJJ on the right track,” McMaster said.