South Carolina’s prisons agency announced Friday it plans to close a minimum security facility outside of Aiken, the fourth such facility to shutter in the past three years.
State Department of Corrections (SCDC) officials said the Lower Savannah Pre-Release Center will close in early June. The Level-1A minimum security facility houses inmates who have served the majority of their sentence and have the opportunity to be reintegrated into the community through work release programs.
The facility is the fourth pre-release center to close in the past three years as the state agency sees a smaller inmate population and fewer with lesser sentences. “We saw an institution that was declining in the offender population,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling told South Carolina Radio Network. “And we also saw a need at another facility in the area.
The other facility is Trenton Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison roughly 12 miles away. Stirling said about 30 correctional officers will move from Lower Savannah to Trenton.
After June, six pre-release centers will remain open statewide. Stirling said there is less need for as many minimum-security prisons under a 2010 sentencing reform law that tried to eliminate mandatory prison sentences and instead encouraged probation or intensive supervision for lower-level offenders. South Carolina’s overall inmate population has declined from more than 25,000 in 2010 to roughly 20,550 this year, according to the SCDC. Recidivism rates have also declined statewide since 2011, the agency said.
Lower Savannah Pre-Release Center opened in 1973 with an operating capacity of 250 inmates, but currently houses 155. Those inmates will be relocated to similar institutions around the state and reintegration programs will not change.