To save money and improve lives, South Carolina needs to boost supervision for released young prisoners so they don't commit more crimes and cycle back behind bars, the nominee to run the state's prisons said Thursday.
Bill Byars, Gov. Nikki Haley's pick to run Corrections, told senators at his confirmation hearing that he wants to first focus on increasing training and post-release supervision, especially for young convicts who can turn their lives around with the right guidance.
"They'll either get skills as taxpayers or break the law," he said. "If they don't get a job, I promise you, they will not starve."
The downside, he said, is that it will cost money upfront, a tall request as legislators face an $830 million budget shortfall for 2011-12.
Byars, juvenile justice director since January 2003, is widely credited for resolving a 13-year federal lawsuit and overhauling the agency. His supervision programs there resulted in a nearly 40 percent reduction in juvenile repeaters 12 months after release, and he wants to apply the concept to adult prisoners.