COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina has hired its first mental health specialists to work as caseloads agents in the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

The four agents began transitioning into their new positions on Tuesday. They will be in Darlington, Florence, Clarendon, Spartanburg, Sumter and Union counties.

“We are honored to provide this highly essential service that will assist in the management of offenders with
behavioral health needs,” Jerry Adger, the agency’s director, said in a news release.

According to the release, the agency’s Mental Health Services Division uses “evidence-based interventions
and specialized strategies to supervise this unique population.” The agents will focus on “building strong rapport” with offenders they supervise while also building relationships with community partners, the agency said.

“Supervision of this specialized caseload requires excellent communication and listening
skills, the ability to develop creative solutions to complex issues and a desire to play an important role in the
rehabilitation of individuals in the criminal justice system,” the agency’s news release said.

The agents also will also assist investigations and law-enforcement efforts, the release said.

The agency says the mission of its mental health program is to:
• Prepare offenders with mental illness to live a prosocial life free of involvement with the justice system
by advocating for and monitoring stability;
• Provide evidence-based interventions that empower offenders with mental illness to establish and
maintain a healthy lifestyle;
• Protect community safety through supportive supervision strategies, appropriate referrals to services
and suitable responses to violations.

In addition, the coordinator of the mental health program will assist the entire state by communicating
between the SCDPPPS, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections to bridge gaps for offenders living with mental illness under supervision.