SC legislators approve sentencing reform bill

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina bill designed to reduce the number of people going to jail for minor offenses and let more people out on parole has received initial approval.

The bill approved on Thursday by the Senate is expected to save taxpayers money while providing improved oversight and training of nonviolent offenders. Proponents said it will ensure there's prison space for high-risk, violent criminals, and that they'll serve longer prison terms.

Drug users and other nonviolent criminals account for half of South Carolina's inmates.

The chairman of a commission that spent more than a year reviewing sentencing policies says the bill reforms a hodgepodge of laws enacted over the years. Democratic Sen. Gerald Malloy of Hartsville says the changes are long overdue.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.