A seven-member Board makes decisions regarding Parole in South Carolina. The Board meets almost every Wednesday in Columbia; however, one week a month the Board considers whether to grant Pardon applications.(hyperlink)
If an inmate of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (link) is eligible for Parole, a hearing is scheduled before the Board. While the Board convenes at its offices on Devine Street in Columbia, the inmates appear before the Board via videoconferencing from one of eight sites. Victims are allowed to appear before the Board in person or via videoconference from Charleston or Spartanburg.
An inmate is allowed to have a lawyer at the hearing, and may also be joined by family members, a potential employer, and a member of clergy. The hearings are conducted quickly. For each eligible inmate in South Carolina who requests a hearing, this one Board must conduct it.
The Board generally considers factors such as the inmate’s: family support, employment opportunities, conduct while in prison, education or classes taken in prison, and letters written in support of the inmate’s parole. Each case is as different as the individuals involved.
§ 24-21-650. Order of parole
The board shall issue an order authorizing the parole which must be signed by at least a majority of its members with terms and conditions, if any, but at least two thirds of the members of the board must sign orders authorizing parole for persons convicted of a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60. The director, or one lawfully acting for him, then must issue a parole order which, if accepted by the prisoner, provides for his release from custody. Upon a negative determination of parole, prisoners in confinement for a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60 must have their cases reviewed every two years for the purpose of a determination of parole.
§ 24-21-30. Meetings; parole and pardon panels
(A) A person who commits a “no parole offense” as defined in Section 24-13-100 on or after the effective date of this section is not eligible for parole
consideration, but must complete a community supervision program as set forth in Section 24-21-560 prior to discharge from the sentence imposed by the court. For all offenders who are eligible for parole, the board shall hold regular meetings, as may be necessary to carry out its duties, but at least four times each year, and as many extra meetings as the chairman, or the Governor acting through the chairman, may order. The board may preserve order at its meetings and punish any disrespect or contempt committed in its presence. The chairman may direct the members of the board to meet as three-member panels to hear matters relating to paroles and pardons as often as necessary to carry out the board’s responsibilities. Membership on these panels shall be periodically rotated on a random basis by the chairman. At the meetings of the panels, any unanimous vote shall be considered the final decision of the board, and the panel may issue an order of parole with the same force and effect of an order issued by the full board pursuant to Section 24-21-65Q. Any vote that is not unanimous shall not be considered as a decision of the board, and the matter shall be referred to the full board which shall decide it based on a vote of a majority of the membership.
(B) The board may grant parole to an offender who commits a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60 which is not included as a “no parole offense” as defined in Section 24-13-100 on or after the effective date of this section by a two-thirds majority vote of the full board. The board may grant parole to an offender convicted of an offense which is not a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60 or a “no parole offense” as defined in Section 24-13-100 by a unanimous vote of a three-member panel or by a majority vote of the full board.
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to allow any person who commits a “no parole offense” as defined in Section 24-13-100 on or after the effective date of this section to be eligible for parole.
(C) The board shall conduct all parole hearings in cases that relate to a single victim on the same day.
(D) Upon the request of a victim, the board may allow the victim and an offender to appear simultaneously before the board for the purpose of providing testimony
§ 24-21-10. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; Board of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; board members; term; appointment; filing vacancies
(A) The department is governed by its director. The director must be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. To qualify for appointment, the director must have a baccalaureate or more advanced degree from an institution of higher learning that has been accredited by a regional or national accrediting body, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and must have at least ten years of training and experience in one or more of the following fields: parole, probation, corrections, criminal justice, law, law enforcement, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, or social work,
(B) The Board of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services is composed of seven members. The terms of office of the members are for six years. Six of the seven members must be appointed from each of the congressional districts and one member must be appointed at large. The at–large appointee shall have at least five years of work or volunteer experience in one or more of the following fields: parole, probation, corrections, criminal justice, law, law enforcement, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, or social work. Vacancies must be filled by gubernatorial appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate for the unexpired term. If a vacancy occurs during a recess of the Senate, the Governor may fill the vacancy by appointment for the unexpired term pending the consent of the Senate, provided the appointment is received for confirmation on the first day of the Senate’s next meeting following the vacancy. A chairman must be elected annually by a majority of the membership of the board. The chairman may serve consecutive terms.
(C) The Governor shall deliver an appointment within sixty days of the expiration of a term, if an individual is being reappointed, or within ninety days of the expiration of a term, if an individual is an initial appointee. If a board member who is being reappointed is not confirmed within sixty days of receipt of the appointment by the Senate, the appointment is considered rejected. For an initial appointee, if confirmation is not made within ninety days of receipt of the appointment by the Senate, the appointment is deemed rejected. The Senate may by resolution extend the period after which an appointment is considered
e of the Senate to confirm an appointee would result in the lack of a quorum of board membership, the seat for which confirmation is denied or rejected shall not be considered when determining if a quorum of board membership exists.
(D) Within ninety days of a parole board member‘s appointment by the Governor and confirmation by the Senate, the board member must complete a comprehensive training course developed by the department using training components consistent with those offered by the National Institute of Corrections
or the American Probation and Parole Association. This training course must include classes regarding the following:
(1) the elements of the decision making process, through the use of evidence-based practices for determining offender risk, needs and motivations to change, including the actuarial assessment tool that is used by the parole agent;
(2) security classifications as established by the Department of Corrections;
(3) programming and disciplinary processes and the department’s supervision, case planning, and violation process;
(4) the dynamics of criminal victimization, and
(5) collaboration with corrections related stakeholders, both public and private, to increase offender success and public safety.
The department must promulgate regulations setting forth the minimum number of hours of training required for the board members and the specific requirements of the course that the members must complete.
(E)(1) Each parole board member is also required to complete a minimum of eight hours of training annually, which shall be provided for in the department’s annual budget. This annual training course must be developed using the training components consistent with those offered by the National Institute of Corrections or American Probation and Parole Association and must offer classes regarding:
(a) a review and analysis of the effectiveness of the assessment tool used by the parole agents;
(b) a review of the department’s progress toward public safety goals;
(c) the use of data in decision making; and
(d) any information regarding promising and evidence-based practices offered in the corrections related and crime victim dynamics field.
The department must promulgate regulations setting forth the specific criteria for the course that the members must complete.
(2) If a parole board member does not fulfill the training as provided in this section, the Governor, upon notification, must remove that member from the board unless the Governor grants the parole board member an extension to complete the training, based upon exceptional circumstances.
(F) The department must develop a plan that includes the following:
(1) establishment of a process for adopting a validated actuarial risk and needs assessment tool consistent with evidence-based practices and factors that contribute to criminal behavior, which the parole board shall use in making parole decisions, including additional objective criteria that may be used in parole decisions;
(2) establishment of procedures for the department on the use of the validated assessment tool to guide the department, parole board, and agents of the department in determining supervision management and strategies for all offenders under the department’s supervision, including offender risk classification, and case planning and treatment decisions to address criminal risk factors and reduce offender risk of recidivism; and
(3) establishment of goals for the department, which include training requirements, mechanisms to ensure quality implementation of the validated assessment tool, and safety performance indicators.
(G) The director shall submit the plan in writing to the Sentencing Reform Oversight Committee no later than July 1, 2011. Thereafter, the department must submit an annual report to the Sentencing Reform Oversight Committee on its performance for the previous fiscal year and plans for the upcoming year. The department must collect and report all relevant data in a uniform format of both board decisions and field services and must annually compile a summary of past practices and outcomes.
History. Amended by 2010 S.C. Acts. Act No. 273 (SB 1154), s 46, eff. 1/1/2011.
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