Eden Hendrick, a South Carolina attorney with a background in handling children’s issues, will temporarily take over the state Department of Juvenile Justice after embattled director Freddie Pough resigned Monday.
Hendrick, 41, will serve as acting director until Gov. Henry McMaster decides his next nominee, who will need Senate confirmation.
Pough, who over the last year found himself in the legislative hot seat answering to staffing and security problems at his agency, resigned Monday after more than five years leading the department responsible for housing juvenile offenders.
His resignation came months after the Senate gave a “no confidence” vote in Pough and after dozens of correctional officers and teachers walked off the job in protest over working conditions at a Columbia detention facility for juvenile offenders.
McMaster had stood by Pough in the face of intense pressure from lawmakers who called for his resignation following the April release of an audit that identified widespread staffing, training and security problems at the agency and which one lawmaker called a “damning indictment” of South Carolina’s juvenile justice system.
Last week, Hendrick was named senior deputy director over the juvenile justice department.
She has an extensive legal career, with degrees from the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia.
Her resume includes work in the Richland County Family Court Division in the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s office, and she was a staff attorney in the Governor’s Office Foster Care Review Board, according to her resume. She also worked as an attorney with the state Department of Social Services, in part representing the agency in cases involving abuse and neglect, and she worked at the Department of Administration.
“I’m grateful for Mr. Pough’s five years of leadership at the Department of Juvenile Justice and his passion for the work of rehabilitating the young people who come under the supervision of the agency,” McMaster said in a statement. “We will immediately begin working to find the best possible person to lead the agency into the future.”
Reporter Zak Koeske contributed to this report.