COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today announced Eden Hendrick as the next executive director of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Hendrick was named acting director in September of 2021 following the resignation of former Director Freddie Pough.
"In her short time with the agency, Ms. Hendrick has demonstrated that she is precisely the right person to lead DJJ at this time,” said Governor Henry McMaster. "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."
As Acting Director, Hendrick has focused her efforts on employee retention and recruitment, facility upgrades, and increased mental health services for DJJ youth.
"Reforming DJJ will be a complicated and difficult process that will take time, but I am optimistic and inspired by the change that has occurred in the past five months since I have been there and I'm confident this trend will continue," said Director Hendrick. "I am grateful to the governor for giving me the opportunity to permanently lead the agency."
"During these difficult and trying times at the Department of Juvenile Justice, we need a leader who can transform and advance one of our most critical child-serving agencies. This person must be prepared to meet the challenges DJJ faces and assure the Governor, the General Assembly, department employees, families, and other stakeholders that they are the right fit for the job. Most importantly, however, is that the director must assure all of us that the children in the custody of DJJ are safe and on a path to rehabilitation so that when they are released, they can become healthy parts of our society. I look forward to the forthcoming confirmation hearings of Eden Hendrick, and hope that she is the right person to lead DJJ into a brighter future. Over the past several months, she has made progress at the department and I am hopeful that she can continue to make positive changes and make the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice one that is modeled and envied by states across the country," said S.C. Senator Katrina Shealy.
"The governor has shed his light all over South Carolina in picking Eden Hendrick," said S.C. Senator Gerald Malloy. "She has demonstrated she is willing to make changes. The morale of DJJ has changed. The system she has put in place already shows us what will happen in the future. Today is an endorsement for the children of South Carolina, we now have someone who can come in and effectively lead this agency. I join with the governor in his efforts in appointing Ms. Hendrick."
Before becoming Acting Director, Hendrick served as Assistant General Counsel at the S.C. Department of Administration. Hendrick formerly served as a prosecutor in the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, specializing in family court matters. As the solicitor’s office’s team leader over its family court division, she supervised a team of support staff, victim advocates, junior attorneys, law clerks, two diversion programs, and two diversion courts.
"Director Hendrick has been a breath of fresh air for us. She has done so much in these 5 months at DJJ," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "Law enforcement is behind her all the way. She is going to be a very successful part of the criminal justice program."
"I am proud to stand here today and endorse Director Hendrick as Executive Director of DJJ," said Michelle Dhunjishah, Director of the Children's Law Center at the University of South Carolina School of Law. "She has the heart, brain, and commitment necessary to make DJJ what it needs to be for our kids."
Hendrick graduated with honors from the University of Georgia in 2002 prior to receiving a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2005. She is the recipient of the 2016 Ernest F. Hollings Award for Excellence in State Prosecution in Family Court and was previously a member of the Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
The position requires confirmation by the South Carolina Senate. Hendrick, 41, is married with two children and is a resident of Richland County.