South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has signed a comprehensive new law intended to save money while diverting nonviolent offenders from prison to community-based programs so space is available in prison for violent criminals, reports the Charleston Post and Courier. The statute is intended to ensure there is space for high-risk, violent offenders in prison while saving the state an estimated $350 million, the cost of building a new prison. It includes provisions on prisoner re-entry and providing incentives for probationers and parolees to stay drug- and crime-free.
The new law redefines 22 crimes as violent, providing longer sentences for some offenders. It removes the disparity in sentencing between possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine, establishes an oversight committee to follow the process of the bill’s implementation and measure progress, and allows people on probation and parole to earn good-time credit.