Potential bill could undo parole system

Greg Hembree
Greg Hembree

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Officially assuming his place as SC Rep. for District 28, Greg Hembree is already getting to work.

Hembree was sworn in by Lt. Governor Glen McConnell on Dec. 12 in the Senate Chamber in Columbia.

And it didn't take him long to get in the hang of things. Senator Hembree has been assigned to Transportation, Agriculture, Education, Judiciary and Fish, Game and Forestry.

Hembree expressed, "I am very pleased with my committee assignments. These are issues that affect so many of the citizens I represent."

The state senate will reconvene on Jan. 8 when the real work begins.

"Several committee meetings have been scheduled and I have prefiled a bill that would abolish parole and bring about real "truth in sentencing" in our criminal courts. I am also working with the Municipal Association on a "Municipal Accountability" bill that would give towns in trouble a path to success and give the state the authority to essentially take control of a town that refuses to accept help. It is very exciting and humbling to serve in this role." said Hembree.

Hembree's successor in the solicitor's office, Jimmy Richardson, says the bill would give an advantage back to prosecutors in putting criminals behind bars.

"Honestly, criminals know more about getting out than we do," Richardson. "They're the ones with the most vested interest."

The bill for "truth in sentencing," would essentially abolish parole in the South Carolina justice system. Currently, an inmate serving a 15 year sentence is eligible for parole after 5 years. If the bill passes, they would have to serve their full sentence.

But some defense attorneys say truth in sentencing isn't a good idea because it could do away with vital rehabilitation programs for inmates.

"There needs to be some mechanism to make sure they keep getting treatment they need," says attorney Bert von Herrmann. "With truth in sentencing, you essentially do your sentence, and you're done."

District 28 covers Horry and Dillon counties.

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