Sentencing Reform Bill targets prison reform

Governor Mark Sanford and State Senate leaders are urging House members to pass a bill they say could save taxpayers $400 million.

The legislation involves alternative prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. Supporters say the bill will alleviate prison overcrowding in South Carolina. Nearly half of the 25,000 people incarcerated in the state are nonviolent offenders.

If trends continue, lawmakers say the prison population will increase by 3,200 in the next five years.

The Sentencing Reform Bill reduces the number of people going to prison for nonviolent crimes and ensures prison space for the violent criminals. "This will prevent us from having to build a new prison at the cost of about 300 million some odd dollars. So, we're saving the state and we're hard on crime soft on the taxpayer," said Senator Gerald Malloy, (D) Darlington, Marlboro, Chesterfield, Lee counties.

The bill has passed the Senate and is expected to be debated on the House floor next week.

To hear what the state's 15th Circuit Solicitor has to say about a specific part of the bill, read that story here.

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