The South Carolina Board of Juvenile Parole was created in 1981 as a part of the Youth Services Act to function as the sole releasing authority of juveniles who had been committed by the Family Court to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Since that time the laws have been amended, and the Board currently has jurisdiction over juveniles indeterminately committed for felony and other offenses as identified in state statute. In 1995 legislation passed granting the Board autonomy from the Department of Juvenile Justice. Despite the separation, the two entities still work closely with the Department of Juvenile Justice continuing to provide support services per the statute. The Board is composed of seven members who are appointed by the Governor, with advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall select members who are representative of the racial, gender, and geographical diversity of the state. Members serve four year terms. The Board employs a Director and support staff; the entire staff is responsible for ensuring that information regarding juveniles, juvenile justice issues, and victim issues are accurately presented to the Board. The Board holds parole hearings monthly and inspects the records of each committed juvenile at least quarterly unless identified as a violent offender by statute. The Parole Board also conducts hearings to determine revocation of release for parole violations as well as provides assistance to victims of juvenile crime.
The Board of Juvenile Parole is charged with the responsibility of determining when and under what conditions juveniles indeterminately committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice shall be released. The Board has adopted a balanced approach philosophy to juvenile justice, which provides the Board consider not only the needs of the juvenile, but also the interests of the victim(s) and the interests of the state when rendering parole decisions.
Guidelines are a range of time given by the Board for an individual to complete thorough treatment for rehabilitation and establish an aftercare plan. Guidelines are determined by the seriousness of the committing offense and the history of prior adjudications. Guidelines serve as a guide to the Board members and it is possible to be released prior to or beyond the given range. The guidelines range from 3-6 months for the lesser offenses and as high as 36-54 months for the more serious offenses. The Board ultimately has jurisdiction to keep offenders detained until the age of 21 or 22 (Raise the Age) years of age based upon when an offender is committed; however, that is not common practice if rehabilitation can be achieved sooner.
There is a presumption that a juvenile will not be released before reaching the minimum guideline date. However, certain factors may warrant a juvenile's release prior to reaching the minimum guideline date. Factors which may overcome this presumption include, but are not limited to, the availability of residential or other appropriate placement for treatment or other purposes, successful progress or completion of specialized programs, completion of or superior progress in treatment or educational goals, or outstanding institutional behavior. This presumption may be more difficult to overcome when a juvenile has been committed for a serious and violent offense.
There is a presumption a juvenile will be released upon reaching the maximum guideline date. However, certain factors may warrant a juvenile's further incarceration. Factors which may overcome this presumption include, but are not limited to, serious institutional misbehavior, serious threat to public safety, lack of progress in treatment or education, lack of remorse, denial of the committing offense(s), or release of the juvenile would depreciate the seriousness of the delinquent act(s).
The key factors determining eligibility for release consideration, include but are not limited to, institutional behavior, community acceptance, history of adjudications, progress toward treatment goals, and appropriate placement.
Each juvenile granted parole or temporary release shall be given a list of standard conditions as well as special conditions of parole or temporary release. The specific standard conditions of parole as set forth in the conditional and temporary release agreements are as follows:
- I will obey all laws including but not limited to, state education laws, attend school regularly, and obey all school rules and regulations so as not to be suspended or expelled or will be gainfully employed.
- I will not leave the state, change my approved placement, school or job without the permission of my aftercare provider.
- I will maintain contact with my aftercare provider while in the community and will keep all scheduled appointments unless excused by the aftercare provider.
- I will not own, possess, or use any weapons or instruments which could cause injury to others.
- I will not fight or harm other persons.
- I will not purchase, possess, or use any illegal drugs or alcoholic beverages.
- I agree to submit to urinalysis tests and/or blood tests when required and agree that the test results may be used as evidence regarding violations of the conditions of my release.
- I will keep the curfew set by the aftercare provider and parent or legal guardian.
- Consistent with SC Code Section 63-19-1850(A), I will permit the search or seizure, without a search warrant, with or without cause, of my person, any vehicle I own or am driving, and any of my possessions by law enforcement or any person authorized by law to conduct such a search.