Horry County looks to save money by letting non-violent offenders out of jail

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Council passed the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday night that would keep people who aren’t considered violent offenders from having to spend time behind bars.

Deputy Chief Tom Fox with Horry County Sheriff’s Office says non-violent offenders would be people who are arrested for crimes like public intoxication, open container, simple possession, or shoplifting.

With this program, the person arrested would go before a judge who could then sentence them to wear an ankle monitor and serve a home detention sentence.

In the past, people were only given ankle monitors as a condition of their bond.

Right now, Fox says it costs the county about $110 per day per inmate, and for those who can’t make bail serving on non-violent charges, that money quickly adds up.

“I would probably say we could probably identify immediately 20 to 30 that we could put out on the program. So, just do your math. Multiply that times 110 a day, and if they’re in there for 40-90 days waiting to plead guilty, it could end up saving the county a lot of money,” said Fox.

Fox says they’d be monitored by the same home detention program that’s already in place in Horry County, and just because they aren’t serving time behind bars using county money, doesn’t mean they won’t pay for their crime.

“They’ll still have to deal with their criminal charges. It has nothing to do with whether they’ll plead guilty or go to trial This is basically just a release mechanism that will assist those that are indigent or don’t have the means to make bond, are non-violent, or have a serious medical condition that can be treated outside of the facility,” said Fox.

News13 reached out to several council members. Council member Johnny Vaught got back to us and says he believes the program will be passed by council. Fox says so far they haven’t seen any opposition from council members.

Fox says the program will begin as soon as the ordinance passes for inmates that are already in jail and for new arrests.