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.
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
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.
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.