HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Housing state prisoners in local jails is an ongoing topic brought up and discussed among lawmakers every few years.
South Carolina legislators are once again re-visiting the decision to change state laws to allow short-sentenced criminals to serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons.
The multi-million dollar move would transport more than 800 state inmates to local jails.
So, if lawmakers decide to follow through and take further action in revising this law that would impact local South Carolina counties, how would Horry County be affected?
“This is an issue that comes up frequently. Over the last twenty years probably six or seven times they have brought this issue up to try to pass it,” Tom Fox, Chief Deputy of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, said.
The decision to revise the law would have an immediate impact on Horry County’s financial budget costing anywhere from three quarters of a million up to one million dollars a year.
Each additional inmate costs an average of sixty-one dollars a day once expenses are added up.
The financial expenses associated with housing an inmate include additional medical, food, laundry, uniform, paper and sanitary products, and security costs.
“It would increase budget costs because each inmate costs money but it would also increase staffing costs because you may have to open up additional housing units which would require additional staff members that we currently do not have,” Fox said.
Increasing inmate population also means an increase in risk.
South Carolina is one of six states that does not house inmates for up to a year.
There are both negative and positive impacts if the decision is pushed forward among state lawmakers and local county jails.
The negative impacts weighing on Horry County housing additional inmates presents the possibility of an insufficient number of staffing, increased funding and staffing costs, and an increased safety risk.
A positive impact involves the inmates and their families to have more accessibility to visit and have contact with each other.
“The uniqueness of us having inmates here is that if a person got sentenced to a year they would have to go to the department of corrections but if they could remain here their families would not have to drive to Columbia or wherever to visit them,” Fox said.
Fox also mentioned that having contact with families is extremely crucial for re-entry of an inmate back into society.
Chief Deputy Tom Fox says he does fundamentally think this could be a good idea if the state financially provides enough money for the additional number of staff and material associated with each inmate.
Count on News13 to keep you updated with any further decision or revision to the law and how Horry County may be impacted.