What do Myrtle Beach, Andrew Jackson, Vanna White and Jesse Jackson have in common? They all call South Carolina home. Located on the east coast of the U.S., South Carolina is known for being the "buckle" on the Bible Belt. South Carolinians are also very proud of their reputation for southern hospitality. They have beautiful beaches that are a common destination of young people celebrating spring break on the east coast.

The most densely populated counties in the state are Greenville, Richland and Charleston, with each county claiming over 300,000 residents. With all these people, there is bound to be some crime. South Carolina is ranked as having one of the highest rates of incarceration in the U.S.

If someone you know is "doing time" in a South Carolina jail, you may wonder what the legal process is in this state, as well as what life behind bars is really like.

Nothing but the Bible
Berkeley County Detention center has recently drawn some attention from the press with its longstanding policy that inmates are allowed to read only the bible during their incarceration. The jail does not allow other books, magazines, or newspapers to be available to the inmates. This is a very controversial policy, and there are many individuals and groups currently trying to overturn this rule.

Incarceration Rate
South Carolina has an incarceration rate of 539 state inmates per 100,000 residents and is ranked 8th in the nation. Housing all these inmates isn't cheap. In Fiscal Year 2006, the South Carolina Department of Corrections expended $301.6 million in state appropriated funds, for a per inmate cost of $13,170 per year ($36.08 per day).

Some states allow for the records of individuals to be cleared of certain crimes. Expungement means that all the information about the case, including arrest and admission of guilt, are cleared from the record. South Carolina law does make expungement possible, but only under very specific circumstances. For most felony, misdemeanor and even traffic violations, expungement is not an option. The only eligible offense is possession of marijuana, and only on the first offense.

Drunk Driving
In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level above .08. Penalties for a first time offense vary, based on factors such as blood alcohol level, presence of minors in the vehicle, driving over the speed limit or harm of another person. Adding any of these factors to the DUI can significantly increase the fine, jail time and amount of community service.

Gun Laws
Residents of South Carolina are allowed to keep guns in their homes and their places of business to provide for their personal protection.   South Carolina is one of several states to have adopted a "Castle Doctrine" bill in the past few years. This bill provides that someone attacked in their home can use reasonable force, which can include deadly force, to protect his or another's life without any duty to retreat from the attacker. South Carolina is a "shall issue" state, meaning that they will issue concealed carry permits upon request.

South Carolina Jails