Public Safety in South Carolina
Over the past 25 years, South Carolina's prison population has soared from 9,137 inmates in 1983, to 24,612 at the end of 2009—and was projected to grow by more than 3,200 inmates by 2014. This growth has come at a significant cost to South Carolina's taxpayers. In 1983, the state spent $63.7 million on prison operations. By 2008, correctional expenditures had skyrocketed to $394.1 million. Despite this huge increase in spending, the amount of violent crime and the recidivism rate remain stubbornly high.
These trends led the state's General Assembly to establish the South Carolina Sentencing Reform Commission in 2008, a bipartisan group consisting of members from the state legislature, the judiciary and the executive branch. With intensive technical assistance from the Public Safety Performance Project, along with its partners, the Crime and Justice Institute and Applied Research Services, Inc., the Sentencing Reform Commission developed a set of recommendations leading to the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act of 2010, which was signed into law in June.
This legislation is designed to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and control the growth of corrections costs. The law is projected to save the state up to $241 million during the next five years.