COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s prison director has won a national award for turning around an agency that was near the bottom in the county in funding, salaries and the rate of inmates who return to prison.

Corrections Department Director Bryan Stirling was honored Saturday night by the Correctional Leaders Association for the changes in South Carolina prisons over his eight years of leadership.

His nomination says Stirling increased starting salaries for officers by $10,000 to $36,000.

Stirling was also honored for lowering the rate of inmates who return to prison to the lowest in the country and for improving both security and quality of life for inmates.