South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is backing a far-reaching sentencing reform bill that supporters say will reduce the number of non-violent offenders in prison and save the state millions of dollars, reports the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “You can only squeeze so much blood from a turnip,” Sanford said. “This really is a taxpayer issue.”
The bill is expected to reduce the state’s projected prison population enough to negate the need for a new prison — saving more than $400 million over five years. It’s designed to increase training for nonviolent offenders to re-enter society without becoming repeat offenders. And it defines a laundry list of crimes as “violent,” including many sex crimes against children. The legislation would provides a tiered approach to assault and battery crimes. Currently, the state has 90-day maximum sentences and 10-year minimum sentences and nothing in between. And it provides a sentence of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison for habitual offenders convicted of driving under suspension resulting in death — and a fine of up to $5,000 and 10 years in prison in such cases where great bodily injury results.