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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform | SC

South Carolina: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 



  • Sex Offender Laws and Registries — South Carolina Prohibits Testimony from Lay Persons in Sex Offense Case: The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the admission of testimony from two lay witnesses in a case involving a youth convicted of sex offenses. The lay witnesses had been allowed to testify as to whether the youth, upon release from the Department of Juvenile Justice, was dangerous and likely to reoffend, and should therefore be placed in a long-term secure facility for sexually violent predators. The court held that admission of such testimony from lay persons was prejudicial. In matter of Thomas S., 402 S.C. 373, 741 S.E.2d 27 (2013).
  • Sex Offender Laws and Registries — Court Rules Electronic Monitoring of Youth Convicted of Sex Offense Must Be Reviewable: A youth in South Carolina challenged the imposition of lifetime electronic monitoring after he pled guilty to a sex offense, arguing that the monitoring constituted cruel and unusual punishment because his young age would make lifetime monitoring especially severe. The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected his argument and held that such monitoring is not punishment, and therefore does not violate the state or federal constitutions. However, the court did mandate periodic judicial review to determine the necessity of continued monitoring, allowing the youth to petition for review ten years after the monitoring commenced. In the Interest of Justin B. 405 S.C. 391, 747 S.E.2d 774 (2013).

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  • Probation, Parole, and Reentry — South Carolina Allows for Reduction in Probation and Parole Terms for Youth: New legislation in South Carolina allows the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to reduce probation or parole terms for youth. DJJ may reduce the terms up to ten days for each month that youth comply with the terms and conditions of their probation or parole. S.B. 300/Act No. 227, signed into law and effective June 18, 2012.
  • Screening and Assessment — South Carolina Expands Authority for Community Evaluations of Youth: A new South Carolina law relaxes the requirements for court-ordered residential evaluations. Prior to disposition, all youth in South Carolina who are adjudicated delinquent must be evaluated; evaluations can take place either in the community or the court may commit a youth to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for up to 45 days for evaluation in a secure facility. The new law allows evaluations in the community for youth who have been ordered by the court to have a residential evaluation unless the underlying order has found the youth to be a flight risk or a risk to public safety, or if the underlying charge is a felony. The new statute also makes it clear that a community evaluation is equivalent to a residential evaluation, even if they are not identical. S.B. 300/Act No. 227, signed into law and effective June 18, 2012.

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  • Facility Closures and Downsizing — State Reduces Number of Confined Youth, Reassigns Staff to Community Positions: The population of youth confined in long-term Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) correctional facilities in South Carolina has declined by 71 percent since FY 2002-2003. Several factors contributed to the lower population: fewer delinquency referrals to court, which declined 37.5 percent since FY 02-03; legislative changes allowing “good time” credit for certain types of sentences and credit for time served in detention or a secure evaluation center before disposition; maximum utilization of alternative residential programs for committed youth who are lower risk; and improved services in the community, including intensive supervision and case management services for high-risk youth on probation and youth reentering the community from DJJ. The dramatic population reduction enabled DJJ to transfer many of the clinical staff from correctional facilities into community offices, where they now provide services to youth and families at the front end of the juvenile justice system. Reinvestment in the community is expected to save money and improve outcomes as case management services and interventions begin earlier and serve youth within their home communities.

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Photo: Diamondduste, under Creative Commons License.