Inmates Now Contributing More Dollars to Benefit Victims

Preliminary figures from the Department of Corrections indicate that inmates will be contributing nearly 1.5 million additional dollars to state crime victim coffers as a result of legislation passed this year. Inmates working in private sector prison industries are expected to generate nearly $900,000 for the state victim compensation fund and inmates employed on work release programs in the community are expected to generate nearly $1,400,000 for the state victim assistance fund. The latter fund provides monies for grants to victim assistance programs throughout the state.

Legislation passed by the 1999 General Assembly requires that 20% of the inmates’ gross salary be deducted and credited to a special account established by the "Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984" or applied to the South Carolina Victims Compensation Fund. When restitution has been ordered by the court, 20% of the inmate’s wages are used to fulfill the restitution obligation , or if no restitution is owed, then the 20% deduction is applied to one of the aforementioned victim’s funds.

In addition, inmates with child support obligations now have 35% of their gross wages deducted for this purpose. This deduction is disbursed to the guardian of the child or children or to the appropriate clerks of court in cases of court-ordered child support. Between September 1st and October 31st of this year inmates on work release and in prison industries programs paid in excess of $90,000 towards child support.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director William D. Catoe noted that the legislation was bipartisan and was endorsed by the Governor and the Department of Corrections. "Victims of crime and children of inmates are now the primary beneficiaries of wages received by Department of Corrections inmates employed in work release and prison industries programs."