Bill to change the way school fights and disturbances are handled, waiting for Senate approval

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Representative Bill Clyburn is behind a bill that calls for a review of the juvenile justice system. If approved, a study committee will review the laws and make recommendations to update them.

The purpose is to steer students away from jail for small fights and class disturbances, and keep them in school.

Clyburn says it's cheaper to pay for equipped school personnel to handle these situations compared to the price of prison.

"We need to have more counselors in schools and when something like that happens, we need to follow up on it. We need to find out what caused the type of disturbance and we need to have it done by professional people" said Clyburn.

In 2016, the annual cost per inmate in South Carolina was more than $18,000 dollars. The most frequent offense for juveniles were fights. The second most common offense were school disturbances.

He says law enforcement should be called for serious threats, but not for everything. Parents like JoAnn Tillman agree. She says students involved in fights are not criminals, just confused.

"They really don't understand it even though they've been led to think that they are mature enough to handle different things" said Tillman.

The bill is waiting for one more yes from the Senate. The last chance for that vote is Tuesday, May 23rd. If the bill is not passed, it will be reintroduced in January.

Click the links below to learn more about the bill and S.C. DJJ:

Read the bill

2016 DJJ Report 

Cost per inmate in 2016

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