Governor-elect Nikki Haley introduced what she calls a coalition to be formed by the departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice and Probation, Pardon and Parole. The goal, she says, is to reduce the recidivism rate.
She says Judge Bill Byars, the Department of Corrections nominee, will spearhead the coalition. This is an arrangement that could be the precursor to merging the three agencies.
Haley Thursday endorsed a bill by Democrat Bakari Sellers of Bamberg that would merge PPP in with Corrections.
Byars says he has already found a model to follow: one he helped create.
I really want to mimic the system that was there at DJJ. The legislature saw wisdom years ago in taking the community part of DJJ and the incarceration part of DJJ and putting them together, so that as you made changes and lowered the number of kids you had incarcerated, that money could flow to the front end. The front end of the system is where you really make the change. Because you can’t have probation officers with 100 cases to follow; you can’t supervise 100 people. So where’s the money going to come from? The money is the $400 million that you spend on incarceration.
Some legislators are concerned about how all this will work. Darlington Senator Gerald Malloy chaired the state Sentencing Reform Commission. He says the changes made based on their recommendations need to take effect first. His concern,
The impact that it has on the sentencing reform bill that we passed. We have an oversight committee that’s going to be formed this on this Thursday, we’re going to have a meeting. We want to look at some of those things and the impact that this bill is going to have on our state. I think we need to wait and let it percolate.
Mallow says there are some cost savings that will come from the legislation, but it will take a few years.