Columbia, SC – This morning, the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee reported S. 155 out favorably. State Senator Karl Allen (D-Greenville) filed the bill aiming to change the terms of sentence remission for prisoners in South Carolina. The current terms for sentencing do not adequately provide for reformed inmates convicted of a “no parole offense” to seek avenues of reentry into society.
The bill would amend current law to allow for inmates convicted of a “no parole offense” to be eligible for sentence remission, discharge, and community supervision after serving a certain percentage of their sentence, and completing specific rehabilitation and behavioral criteria.
The bill would, retroactively, allow for inmates convicted of a “no parole offense” related to controlled substances or other illegal drugs to be eligible for sentence remission, discharge, and community supervision after serving 65% of their sentence.
Moving forward, all inmates convicted of any “no parole offense” would be eligible for early release, discharge, and community supervision after serving 77% of their sentence.
All inmates would have to be recorded as having no major disciplinary infractions to be considered, as well as completed rehabilitation and re-entry programs.
In addition to these changes, the bill aims to credit inmates for the work, learning, and good behavior they complete during their sentence. The percentages of their sentence used to determine their eligibility will be calculated with these credits in mind.
On the committee’s vote on the bill, Senator Allen said:
“I’d like to thank the members of the committee for their hard work and bipartisan effort to move S. 155 forward. This piece of legislation will serve as a game changing mechanism in the criminal justice system in South Carolina, and hopefully, a model for the country.”
Senator Allen’s hope is that this bill will allow for inmates who have dedicated substantial effort into reforming their behavior to have a second chance. He has been a career advocate for prison reform, especially in Greenville County where he has worked with technical colleges to build training programs for inmates. With the South Carolina DOC inmate count at nearly 18,000 people at the end of their last fiscal year, our state needs a criminal justice system that shifts to focus on rehabilitation rather than warehouse punitive incarceration. Those who have earned re-entry into their community should be given that opportunity.