We have been provided with a probation primer. Even with the dissatisfaction we display with the probation system, the agency does have some dedicated agents who try to do what they can with limited budgets, personnel and restrictive policies set by politicians.
We have already learned that official sounding terms like “intensive probation” are nothing more than a classification suggested by a computer program which evaluates the risk of a criminal committing a subsequent offense while on probation. Those classifications have nothing to do with the actual supervision of the criminal.
First, we have learned probation violation warrants are generally issued only for arrests involving weapons violations, failing to report (only after exhaustive attempts to locate the offender, though), and criminal domestic violence. These things are generally considered “community safety” issues. Those community safety issues are set by SCDPPPS policies and staff.
The apparent view of SCDPPPS is an arrest for a general sessions court offense is not sufficient grounds for a probation violation. Innocent until proven guilty, right? We are told it is now the policy of SCDPPPS to wait for the defendant to plead guilty. When that happens, the agency sends a packet to the court recommending revocation of probation rather than filing a separate charge. At that point SCDPPPS passes responsibility for the continuation or revocation of probation to the solicitors and the judges. As we have continually demonstrated in these pages, that is a bad idea.
So, when someone on probation or parole is arrested for a new GSC offense, they have not violated their probation or parole until they either plead guilty or are found guilty. As long as the person on probation calls his agent and says, “Yo, I got locked up for Trafficking Cocaine last week,” he’s in the clear and no probation violation will be filed.
According to those in the know, “sentencing reform” in South Carolina has led to this lack of prosecution of those who violate the conditions of probation or parole. The goal of the Governor and your state legislature in enacting that sentencing reform was to lower the prison population. The policies set forth for SCDPPPS, at the direction of those political bosses, are specifically geared toward keeping the prison population down. What does that mean for you? More serial offenders running around, violating probation and parole conditions and shooting up your neighborhoods and entertainment venues. We are told the agents who have to deal with these idiotic policies and rely on solicitors and judges are just as frustrated as the rest of us.
Now you see why judges like the “Felon’s Friend” simply let people repeatedly walk out of their courtrooms feeling good. Your judges are appointed by your politicians and their goal is to keep the prison population down. The fact that someone commits offense after offense while out on bond, or while free on probation, means nothing. That’s why we are seeing criminals with 25, 30, or even 50 or more arrests and convictions before any significant amount of prison time is imposed.
As we have shown you over the past three years there are no consequences for serial offenders. No consequences in bond court, no consequences in the probation and parole system, and no consequences with solicitors or judges. It really is no wonder why we have all of these repeat violent offenders roaming the Lowcountry, fearlessly shooting one another at fun parks or children’s restaurants. We have to wonder what the politicians have gained by keeping these criminals on the streets for as long as possible. Maybe some of our readers have a better grasp on the big picture in that regard. Please fill us in.
Listed below are the 12 general conditions of probation each convict must sign and agree to. Violating any of these 12 conditions was once a basis for a charge of violation of probation. Based on what we have been told and relayed to you above, the documents containing these conditions are not worth the cost of the paper and ink it takes to print them.
1. I shall report in person to the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services’ office on the day of my sentencing or release and as instructed by the Department; and I shall make complete and truthful reports to the Agent.
2. I shall not change my residence or employment without the consent of my Agent. Further, I shall allow my Agent to visit me in my home, at my place of employment, or elsewhere, at any time.
3. I shall not use controlled substances, except when properly prescribed by a licensed physician, nor consume alcoholic beverages to excess, nor enter establishments whose primary business is the sale and drinking of alcoholic beverages. Further, I shall submit to a urinalysis, blood test or provide forensic evidence when instructed by Agents of the Department, and I agree that any of these test results may be used as evidence in any hearing for the violation of the conditions of my supervision.
4. I shall not possess or purchase any firearm or other dangerous weapons, and I shall not associate with any person who has a criminal record, or any person whom my Agent has instructed me to avoid.
5. I shall work diligently at a lawful occupation. Further, I shall notify my Agent if I become unemployed.
6. I shall not violate any Federal, State, or Local Law, and I shall contact my Agent if I am ever arrested or questioned by a law enforcement official for any reason whatsoever.
7. I shall pay a supervision fee and any other fees as determined by the Department.
8. I shall not leave the State without permission from my Agent. Further, if I am ever arrested in another state for violating these conditions, I hereby irrevocably waive all extradition rights I may otherwise have been entitled to and agree to return to South Carolina when directed by my Agent, the court, or by a warrant.
9. I shall obey all conditions of supervision set forth in this order including the payment of fines, restitution, or other payments, and the service of any period of incarceration.
10. I shall follow the advise and instructions of my Agent and I agree to comply with any further conditions imposed by the Department or its Agents.
11. I agree to pay restitution and a statutory collection fee payable to the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services as directed by Agents of the Department. (20% collection fee charged)
12. Unless I was convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a class C misdemeanor or an unclassified misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, I shall be subject to a search or seizure, without a search warrant, based on reasonable suspicions, of my person, any vehicle I own or am driving, and any of my possessions by 1) any probation Agent employed with the Deartment; or 2) any other law enforcement officer.