The results of a long-term study into alternative sentencing due out today is expected to help South Carolina legislators grappling with violence in the community and a major budget crunch, reports the Charleston Post and Courier. The paper first revealed the difficulties at the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services in the five-part series published in August 2008. The series found that criminals out on probation or parole terrorize the community as the system intended to watch over them continues to be overwhelmed.
The agency’s troubles continue. It lost 101 agents in the past two years due to dramatically falling state tax collections. More cuts could be on the way. The Sentencing Reform Commission was created by the Legislature in 2008 to study alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders as a way to free up space within the prisons and review the parole system for improvements. Putting more money in the criminal justice system isn’t a possibility right now, nor is raising taxes to come up with new revenue, officials said.