South Carolina prison beds should be reserved for the most violent offenders, the state’s Sentencing Reform Commission has recommended, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. Certain nonviolent offenders, such as drug users, should be given alternative sentences, including probation and community service, and geriatric and terminally ill inmates should be released to make room for murderers, drug traffickers and rapists, said the commission’s long-awaited report.
Such moves would save more than $92 million dollars in prison operations in the next five years and prevent the need to build a $317 million facility, the report said. The savings could be shifted to the currently overwhelmed probation and parole system, but the money to keep a better watch on criminals out on the street won’t be immediately available. The report calls for the legislature to adopt 24 recommendations, after the panle’s study of the upsurge in repeat offenders, overcrowding of state and local jails, an increase in inmates incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, the lack of alternative sentences and the impact of a prolonged budget slump.