State corrections chief announces retirement

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- SouthCarolina Department of Corrections Director William R. Byars, Jr. announcedFriday that he will retire at the end of September.

Byars has served as director of the SCDC since 2011, when he was nominated by Gov. Nikki Haley and confirmed by the state Senate.

"Aftermany wonderful years in public service, I've decided that the time is right tofinally slow down and enjoy more time with my family," said Byars.

Byars oversaw the reorganization of many state programs for inmates that shuttered some prisons and reallocated services to others.

Under Byars, the prison population has declined from 23,300 in 2011 to 22,000 across the state.

"I have had the pleasure of working underfour governors in various capacities and have especially enjoyed myrelationship with Governor Haley over the last three years. She has taken aparticular interest in the Department of Corrections and has worked closelywith us in helping make some much needed improvements to our facilities andequipment and in getting salary increases for correctional officers at ourmaximum security prisons," he said.

Byarscommended the employees of the Department of Corrections for their efforts.

"Theemployees at SCDC have a tough, often dangerous job to do, and I have foundthem to be uniformly dedicated to the state and true public servants," he said. "Iam very pleased with what we have been able to accomplish together and amconfident that the momentum we have started will continue going forward."

Before taking the directorship at the SCDC, Byars served eight years as the head of the state's juvenile justice department. He has also served as a family court judge.

"Judge Byars' service to our state hasbeen beyond exemplary and South Carolina is a better place because of it," said Haley. "His accomplishments at both the Department of Correctionsand DJJ standout as models for instituting reform minded government thateffectively and efficiently work for taxpayers. We will miss his tirelessdedication and professionalism and wish him and his family the very best in alltheir future endeavors."

Haley has not announced a nominee to replace Byars.