Our HistoryGlossary of Terms
Chronological History of the
Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services
On October 18, 1941, Governor Burnet Rhett Maybank signed into law Act 547 (amended by Act 571) creating the South Carolina Probation and Parole Board. Governor Maybank immediately appointed six board members: Albert Novit, Walterboro-District 1; Dr. Eunice F. Stackhouse, Columbia-District 2, Dr. Young M. Brown, Newberry-District 3; Isaac L. Tigert, Greenville-District 4; Robert W. Betts, Chester-District 5; and E. A. Sompayrac, Society Hill-District 6. The Board met on October 19th and appointed Dr. Brown as Chairman. The Governor also requested that the Board appoint Jake C. Todd of Due West, South Carolina as Director of Probation and Parole. Mr. Todd, with salary of not more than $4000, was given the task of implementing this new Act with an annual budget of $27,000. Eight probation officers were hired at $2,100 per year each. The Board members were not paid a salary, but instead were granted traveling expenses and a $10 stipend per day while in the dispensing of their duties.
The primary duties of this new agency were to conduct pre-sentence investigations for the circuit courts, to monitor individuals placed on probation, and to make recommendations on parole matters subject to approval by the Governor. In its 1942 annual report, the agency supervised a total of 161 persons on parole and 886 probationers ranging in age from 8 to 76 years old. Of that number, there were 96 females on probation.
On March 28, 1946, the powers and duties of the separate Board of Pardons were devolved upon the Probation and Parole Board, which was renamed the Probation, Parole, and Pardon Board by the signing into law of Act 562 by Governor Ransome Judson Williams. Three years later in 1949, the South Carolina Constitution was amended to restrict the clemency powers of the Governor to granting reprieves and commuting death sentences to life imprisonment. All other clemency power was vested in the Board, which then became and still remains, the sole authority in the State of South Carolina to grant pardons and to issue and revoke paroles. In 1964, J. C. Moore became the second Director, followed by Grady A. Wallace in 1973.
On June 15, 1981, Governor Richard (Dick) Wilson Riley signed the Community Corrections Act (Act 100), which mandated internal reorganization. The Board was renamed the Parole and Community Corrections Board and the agency became the South Carolina Department of Parole and Community Corrections. The Board was directed to separate the management of the pardon and parole functions. The Director managed the agency and the Commissioner for Paroles and Pardons was responsible for Board support functions. Jack “Jesse” Pratt was named Director and Grady Wallace assumed the role of Commissioner. The Act reflected the legislature’s intention to rely more on community-based alternatives to incarceration and less on imprisonment. Initiatives and programs developed included restitution through community service, halfway houses, and an early release supervision furlough program. At the end of June 1982, the Department actively supervised 18,133 offenders with 165 caseload-carrying Agents. A mandated budget cut of 4.6% in September 1982 resulted in a reduction in force and the loss of 20 Agents. At the end of FY 1984, the number of persons under active supervision had increased to 21,551 and Frank B. Sanders was named Director.
On July 1, 1985, the new parole process was implemented. It utilized parole examiners and a risk assessment scale on each eligible inmate considered for parole by the Board. Parole examiners were assigned to each institution at the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) either on a full time or regular basis and conducted in-depth, face-to-face pre-parole interviews, reviewed background investigations, and developed summaries and recommendation reports for the Board. This process helped to reduce the amount of time required to process each case for a parole hearing.
The missions of the Board and Department were further expanded through the Omnibus Criminal Justice Improvements Act of 1986, to include the development of a range of community punishments as sentencing options for the Court. That same year, the Department created the Office of Victim Services, becoming the first probation/parole agency in the country to hire staff whose sole responsibility was to work with victims.
In 1987, Michael J. Cavanaugh became the Director and the Department opened its first Restitution Center in Columbia under a cooperative effort with SCDC. The residential center allowed offenders to pay restitution, court fines, and fees as a part of their community supervision.
To more fully reflect these increasing roles in the state’s criminal justice system, the Board was renamed the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons and the agency was renamed the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS) with the signing of Act 480 by Governor Carroll Ashmore Campbell on May 2, 1988.
At the onset of FY 1994, the South Carolina General Assembly mandated restructuring of state government. The Board and Department became two separate and distinct entities. SCDPPPS became a cabinet-level agency, with the agency’s director reporting to the Governor. The Director also assumed complete responsibility for the oversight, management and control of the Department, as well as the development of all written policies and procedures. The Board’s focus shifted exclusively to deciding matters regarding paroles and pardons, with the agency continuing to provide logistical, investigative, and administrative support to the Board. In 1995, William E. Gunn was appointed as Director.
On June 25, 1997, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons began conducting its hearings with video teleconferencing technology. For many years, parole hearings were conducted at a SCDC facility. Victims wishing to oppose the parole of an inmate in person were required to go through metal detectors and be subject to a search to enter the prison gates. Teleconferencing equipment was installed at the SCDPPPS central office in Columbia and at multiple sites at SCDC. In the fall of 1997, Stephen G. Birnie was named Director.
In 1998, the Department began to collect and distribute court-ordered victim restitution previously collected by the Clerk of Courts and began subcontracting with the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to provide electronic monitoring of juvenile offenders.
In 1999, Stephen K. Benjamin was appointed as Director by Governor James Hovis Hodges. The Office of Safety Enforcement and Professional Responsibility was formed with the primary responsibility of aggressively pursuing absconders from lawful probationary and parole sentences.
In 2000, Act 352 was adopted to clarify that an Agent has the power and authority to enforce the criminal laws of the state. Probation and Parole Agents transitioned from Class-II to Class-I Law Enforcement Officers following completion of required training and certification. The agency began a collaborative effort with other law enforcement entities in the Palmetto State to provide security at special events and other security and safety deployments. In addition, the Department developed response protocols to conduct lane reversals for Lowcountry evacuations during hurricanes as well as for security at evacuation centers.
In 2003, Governor Hodges appointed Joan B. Meacham as the Department’s first female director. On the day of Director Meacham’s appointment, there were 900 employees—407 males and 493 females.
On June 19, 2002, the Interstate Compact Act was enacted, establishing a uniform system for reporting, tracking, and exchanging data on the authorized movement of adult offenders supervised in the community.
In 2003, the Department began exploring Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology as a strategy for the community supervision of offenders who had been convicted in General Sessions Court of assaultive offenses against adult females through a S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act grant. GPS could pinpoint within 15 meters a person’s position on the Earth. That same year, James V. McClain became the Director, followed by Samuel B. Glover in 2004. In 2005, the Department used GPS technology to monitor both male and female high-risk offenders through another grant-funded project.
In June of 2006, Governor Mark Sanford signed Jessie's Law, a bill aimed at protecting the state's children through tougher penalties and mandatory minimums for sexual predators and mandated GPS monitoring for sex offenders convicted of certain offenses. That same year, the Department received grant funding to implement digital fingerprinting (LiveScan) in 14 pilot county offices. This technology replaced the use of “ink and paper” fingerprinting of offenders and allowed Agents to obtain and transmit offender fingerprints electronically to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Over the next five years, LiveScan systems were placed in every county office.
Governor Sanford signed the “Prevention of Underage Drinking and Access to Alcohol Act” into law in June of 2007, which mandated an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program in South Carolina. The Department was named the lead agency for the new program, and is administered by SCDPPPS, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.
In 2010, the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) was passed, which called for mandates that enabled the Department to implement alternative strategies to incarceration in order to reduce the state’s reliance on prisons. The SRA sought to strengthen probation and parole by shifting limited resources to supervise high-risk offenders using Evidence-Based Practices while implementing new supervision strategies for offenders least likely to re-offend.
In 2011, South Carolina’s first female Governor, Nikki Haley, appointed Kela E. Thomas as Director. In 2014, “Emma’s Law” was signed enacted. This law greatly enhanced the existing (IID) Program.
In 2015, Jerry B. Adger was appointed as Director by Governor Haley. Director Adger created the Offender Supervision Specialist Program (OSS), which reduced caseload size, enhanced supervision strategies, while addressing Agent retention. The agency reorganized its structure within the Field Operations Division to reflect a separate Administrative Unit (OSS) and an Enforcement Unit (Class 1 Agent) to ensure that cases are assigned to the appropriate unit. That same year, Emma’s Law was amended, expanding the program’s scope and providing for more drivers to be eligible to participate in the program.