Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $51,617)
The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.
The South Carolina Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) was established in 1973 under the Comprehensive Data Systems program. The goal of this program was to establish a state level capacity for criminal justice data collection and analysis in order to better inform the public and policy makers. The SAC is located in the Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs (OHSJP). OHSJP, among its myriad duties, functions as the State Administrative Agency (SAA). The SAC has developed and maintained close working relationships with other criminal justice agencies by undertaking research and evaluation projects. The primary function of the SAC in South Carolina is to provide policy relevant information and data analysis to inform the public and policy makers.
Under this award, the SC SAC has proposed two core capacity projects. The first project proposes to conduct a study on crimes against children, those under eighteen years of age, for the purpose of providing a body of knowledge to help policy makers to make more informed decisions and the general public for educational purposes. The SC SAC will work with the SC State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to obtain 1991-2014 National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) compatible South Carolina Incident Based Reporting System (SCIBRS) data. The SAC will also work with SLED to gather information on data requests received in past years about crimes against children. The 2012 South Carolina Incident Based Reporting System (SCIBRS) data showed that only 6.8% of the individual victims were under the age of eighteen with a high incident of victims in sexual violence. Even with a small portion of the victims being children there is a large request for information on children.
In the second project, The SAC plans to address the questions of equity, cost, and justice in local judicial and jail systems. It has long been recognized that pervasive pretrial detention of defendants accused of non-violent crimes has a variety of pernicious effects. Among these are excessive detention costs borne by local communities, marginal (or no) increases in public safety through preventive detention, the fundamental unfairness of incarcerating persons presumed innocent because they cannot afford surety bond, and the furtherance of other bad outcomes such as defendant job loss, family disruption, and the higher probability of increased future criminality. South Carolina suffers the effects of excessive pretrial detention as much or more than most states. It is believed that 70 percent of the states inmates in local jails are in a pretrial status, higher than national averages, and the vast majority of inmates are not accused of violent crimes.