Minnesota's corrections commissioner said Monday that she will retire in January after eight years in office.

Joan Fabian began her career in 1966 at the Hennepin County Detention Center. In 2003, Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed her to head the Minnesota Department of Corrections, which oversees eight adult prisons and two juvenile detention centers.

"I think it really is a good job, but no one understands how complicated it is," said Fabian, 66. She spoke of the need to juggle many competing -- and often conflicting -- expectations of how state prisons should be funded and managed. "The nice thing was that I understood what corrections was all about."

Fabian led corrections at a time when Minnesota had one of the lowest recidivism rates in the nation -- 75 percent of offenders didn't return to prison with new felonies. She also faced several challenges, such as an overhaul of how sex offenders are managed in state prisons.

Fabian worked as both an adult and juvenile probation officer in Ramsey County Community Corrections and later became director of the department before Pawlenty appointed her to the state job.

Fabian's retirement will be effective Jan. 3. She said Monday that this was a good time to leave corrections because with Pawlenty's departure from office, she would be out of a job anyway.

Fabian earned about $108,000 annually.