SC bill would merge oversight of offenders

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Senate panel has advanced a bill putting oversight of prisoners, parolees, and those on probation in a single agency.

The bill sent Thursday to the full Judiciary Committee would merge the Department of Corrections with the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

Corrections Director Bill Byars says the merger would greatly improve the justice system, by coordinating oversight of lawbreakers in hopes they successfully return to society and don't end up back in jail.

Byars says oversight of offenders now bounces back and forth between the agencies.

Sentencing reform enacted in 2010 has reduced the prison population by nearly 2,000 inmates. While officials agree the reduction is good, agents who are already overwhelmed aren't able to adequately oversee the rising number of people on probation and parole.

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