Fewer Parole Violations Issued
In 2010, South Carolina made major changes in its sentencing laws to solve the problem of an ever-growing prison population, according to The State newspaper.
The state’s projected increase of 3,200 prisoners by 2014 would have cost taxpayers $175 million just to make space, prompting the state Legislature to act.
Sentencing reforms begun in 2010 resulted in a decrease of more than 1,300 prisoners. In addition, two of the state’s prisons were closed since the reforms took place, according to the report.
The state’s new sentencing law is designed to strengthen penalties for violent crimes while using alternative sentences for nonviolent crimes. According to the Pew Center on the States, the new law puts South Carolina “at the forefront of states advancing research-driven criminal justice policies.”
Under the new law, prisoners released on supervised parole will be able to get 20 days taken off their supervision for each month they follow the rules, so that “the offender pays less money in supervision fees – in some cases, he or she even earns a refund,” according to the report. Additional reforms have been made so that those who violate parole end up back in prison only as a last resort. As a result, the main reason for the drop in prisoners has resulted from fewer revoked probations.
“The real test of sentencing reform will be whether it keeps offenders from committing more crimes and getting even longer sentencing,” said Charles Bradbury, director of research for the state Department of Corrections.
The author of the law, state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, leads a committee overseeing its implementation. He has traveled to Oregon, New Orleans, Denver, Chicago, Massachusetts and Georgia to discuss the South Carolina reforms.
In comparison, a federal court has capped California prisons at 137.5 percent of designed capacity or 109,519 prisoners. From March 2012 through January 2013, the California’s prisoner population dropped from 125,728 to 119,002. The state has until Dec. 27 to comply with the order.