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Sentencing
Determinacy Type1: Indeterminate
Time Served Requirements:

1995 Crime Bill: Truth-in-Sentencing for Violent Offenders2  

  • Following a national trend to abolish parole and adopt truth-in-sentencing, in its 1995 Crime Bill, the South Carolina General Assembly designated felonies, punishable by 20 years or more sentences, to be “no parole offenses” - i.e., the offender cannot be released until credits equal 100% of sentence and at least 85% of sentence has been served. Upon release, the inmate must also satisfy up to (indeterminate) 2 years of community supervision. The law also stipulates that such sentencing applies only to crimes committed on or after January 1, 1996.

South Carolina passed the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act on June 2, 2010.3

  • The new law encompasses a package of criminal justice reforms.  For example, the bill redefines 22 crimes as violent, providing longer sentences for some defendants and restructures sentences such as requiring a mandatory 30-year sentence for death caused by arson, creating a crime of attempted murder to help charge people appropriately, increasing the amount of victim restitution, and updating fines for theft for the first time in 20 years so values are more in line with present-day costs.”

Title 17 - Criminal Procedures, CHAPTER 25. JUDGMENT AND EXECUTION, ARTICLE 1. CONVICTION AND SENTENCE4 

  • (D) Except as provided in this subsection or subsection (E), no person sentenced pursuant to this section shall be eligible for early release or discharge in any form, whether by parole, work release, release to ameliorate prison overcrowding, or any other early release program, nor shall they be eligible for earned work credits, education credits, good conduct credits, or any similar program for early release. A person is eligible for work release if the person is sentenced for voluntary manslaughter (Section 16-3-50), kidnapping (Section 16-3-910), carjacking (Section 16-3-1075), burglary in the second degree (Section 16-11-312(B)), armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(A)), or attempted armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(B)), the crime did not involve any criminal sexual conduct or an additional violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60, and the person is within three years of release from imprisonment.
  • (E) For the purpose of this section only, a person sentenced pursuant to this section may be paroled if:
    • (1) the Department of Corrections requests the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to consider the person for parole; and
    • (2) the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services determines that due to the person's health or age he is no longer a threat to society; and
      • (a) the person has served at least thirty years of the sentence imposed pursuant to this section and has reached at least sixty-five years of age; or
      • (b) the person has served at least twenty years of the sentence imposed pursuant to this section and has reached at least seventy years of age; or
      • (c) the person is afflicted with a terminal illness where life expectancy is one year or less; or
      • (d) the person can produce evidence comprising the most extraordinary circumstances.
  • (F) For the purpose of determining a prior or previous conviction under this section and Section 17-25-50, a prior or previous conviction shall mean the defendant has been convicted of a most serious or serious offense, as may be applicable, on a separate occasion, prior to the instant adjudication. There is no requirement that the sentence for the prior or previous conviction must have been served or completed before a sentence of life without parole can be imposed under this section.
  • (G) The decision to invoke sentencing under this section is in the discretion of the solicitor.
  • (H) Where the solicitor is required to seek or determines to seek sentencing of a defendant under this section, written notice must be given by the solicitor to the defendant and defendant's counsel not less than ten days before trial.
Earned Time:
South Carolina laws allow SCDC to award inmates with credits for good behavior and participation in work/educational programs. These credits can be applied towards an inmate's sentence(s) to establish an earlier release date, unless the inmate was sentenced under the Truth-in-Sentencing statute and must serve 85% of his/her sentence. Good time credits can be applied towards establishing sentence expiration date. Good time credits cannot be applied towards establishing parole (conditional release) eligibility. On the other hand, work/educational credits can be applied towards conditional or unconditional release criteria.5
Habitual Offender Law Types:
Two Strikes, Three Strikes
Habitual Offender Laws:

SECTION 17-25-45. Life sentence for person convicted for certain crimes (for full text, please see footnote link).6 

  • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except in cases in which the death penalty is imposed, upon a conviction for a most serious offense as defined by this section, a person must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if that person has either:
    • one or more prior convictions for:
      • a most serious offense; or
      • a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would be classified as a most serious offense under this section; or
    • two or more prior convictions for:
      • a serious offense; or
      • a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would be classified as a serious offense under this section.
  • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except in cases in which the death penalty is imposed, upon a conviction for a serious offense as defined by this section, a person must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if that person has two or more prior convictions for:
    • a serious offense;
    • a most serious offense;
    • a federal or out-of-state offense that would be classified as a serious offense or most serious offense under this section; or
    • any combination of the offenses listed in items (1), (2), and (3) above.
General Jail Cutoff (months):
3
Sentences To Prison:

In June 1974, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation to give the SCDC jurisdiction over all adult offenders with sentences exceeding three months. Consequently, SCDC inmate population grew significantly in 1975 and 1976. On June 30, 1974, SCDC inmate totaled 3,646. On June 30, 1976, the number rose to 6,840, representing an 87% increase over a 2-year period.7


Correctional System
System Structure Type:
Separate
Prison Jurisdiction:

The SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (SCDC) is the state adult prison system in South Carolina, responsible for the housing, feeding, and security of adult offenders, aged 17 and above, who were sentenced by the courts to a period of incarceration exceeding three months. By statute or cooperative agreements, SCDC also houses these inmates: juveniles sentenced as adults; county safekeepers (death-row and pre-trial offenders posing high risks in local jails); Interstate Corrections Compact inmates, and pre-sentence evaluation offenders under the Youthful Offender Act, Section 5B.

Juveniles are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice.8

Type of Facilities:
The Department of Corrections has twenty-seven institutions and they are categorized into four distinct security levels: high security (level 3), medium security (level 2), minimum security (level 1B) and community-based pre-release/work centers (level 1A).9
Private Prisons:
The DOC does not house any offenders in private prisons (based on information on corporate websites, accessed in August, 2017). 
Admission Types:
  • NEW ADMISSIONS FROM COURT10
    • Indeterminate Sentence (YOA): The Youthful Offender Act provides for indeterminate sentences of 1 - 6 years for offenders aged 17 - 25.
    • Straight Sentence (Non-YOA)
    • Other Jurisdiction
  • PROBATION REVOCATIONS
  • PAROLE REVOCATIONS
    • Youthful Offender Act (YOA)
    • NON-YOA
  • SF/EPA REVOCATIONS
  • COMMUNITY SUPV. REVOCATIONS
  • RE-SENTENCED
  • DEATH ROW
  • OTHER (These inmates include appeal bond denied, ICC, and other state inmates.)

 


Release Supervision
Post-Prison Supervision Jurisdiction:
Combined Parole/Probation Agency
Supervision Jurisdiction:

The SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION, PAROLE AND PARDON SERVICES is charged with the community supervision of offenders placed on probation by the court and paroled by the State Board of Paroles and Pardons, as well as those on Youthful Offender Release from the South Carolina Department of Corrections.11

The Department is charged with the responsibility of supervising those offenders placed on probation by the Court. Probation is a court-ordered community sanction which suspends the imposition of all or part of the original sentence of incarceration. It requires the offender, under SCDPPPS supervision in the community, to adhere to a set of conditions which limit the offender’s freedom, reparation to victims if so ordered, and to provide for judicial revocation for violation of those conditions.12

The Department is charged with the responsibility of supervising those offenders paroled by the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons. Parole is the conditional release of an individual from imprisonment, but not from the legal custody of the state, to complete his/her sentence outside a correctional institution under conditions and provisions of supervision determined by the Board. Should an individual be granted parole, he/she must agree to abide by certain conditions of community supervision. The violation of any of these conditions is sufficient grounds for revocation of parole by the Board, and the imposition of the remainder of the original sentence of incarceration. The parole category also includes DJJ early release and Community Supervision Program offenders.13

Inmates ages 17 through 24, sentenced under the state’s Youthful Offender Act (YOA) to an

indeterminate period of incarceration (not to exceed six years) within the South Carolina

Department of Corrections (SCDC), may be conditionally released prior to that time, based on offense, category, adjustment, and evaluation while incarcerated.14

Release Types:
  • EXPIRATION OF SENTENCE/LESS GOOD TIME15
  • MAXOUT - YOA
  • PLACED ON PROBATION
  • PAROLED BY YOA PAROLE BOARD
  • PAROLED BY DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION, PAROLE, AND PARDON SERVICES
  • RE-SENTENCED
  • RELEASED FROM EPA/SF II
  • COMMUNITY SUPERVISION
  • DEATH
  • DEATH-EXECUTED
  • OTHER  (These releases include court ordered, paid fine, appeal bond, pardon, remanded to county and released on furlough.)
Supervision Types:
  • Probation: Includes Probation, Probation Termination Upon Payment (PTUP), Split Probation (admitted to probation with a split sentence from prison), Monitor for the Court, and Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI).
  • Parole: Includes Parole, Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), early release program, and Community Supervision Program cases.
  • YOA: Includes offenders sentences under the Youth Offender Act.16

1 http://jrx.sagepub.com/content/14/2/1.abstract
2http://www.doc.sc.gov/pubweb/about_scdc/AgencyHistory1.jsp
3http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20100603/PC1602/306039980
4http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t17c025.php
5http://www.doc.sc.gov/pubweb/faqs.jsp
6http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t17c025.php
7http://www.doc.sc.gov/pubweb/about_scdc/AgencyHistory1.jsp
8http://www.doc.sc.gov/pubweb/faqs.jsp
9http://www.doc.sc.gov/institutions/institutions.jsp
10http://www.doc.sc.gov/research/AdmissionsTrend/AdmissionTrendAdmissionsToBaseFY06-10.pdf
11http://www.dppps.sc.gov/content/download/20553/471474
12http://www.dppps.sc.gov/content/download/20553/471474
13http://www.dppps.sc.gov/content/download/20553/471474
14http://www.dppps.sc.gov/content/download/20553/471474
15http://www.doc.sc.gov/research/ReleasesTrend/ReleaseTrendReleasesFromBaseFY06-10.pdf
16https://www.dppps.sc.gov/content/download/55362/1283656/file/2014%20Annual%20Statistical%20Report.pdf

Disclaimer: The information on the Fact Sheets has been assembled verbatim from the public sources referenced in the Fact Sheets. For some states, the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision has also provided additional information. Because this type of information is constantly changing, users are cautioned to research and verify website information independently.

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