Local representative sponsors bill to reform laws ending South Carolina’s school-to-prison-pipeline

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – A bill aimed at ending the so-called school-to-prison pipeline is making its way through the South Carolina legislature.

Sponsors say the goal is to reform current juvenile justice laws to keep teens from going to prison for things that are deemed minor.

Some juvenile state laws, created decades ago, are still used today. Those laws work against teens who commit minor infractions, because they end up paying for it with their freedom.

If House Bill 3055 passes, those century-old statues would finally be revised.

Sending students from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse is a norm State Representative William “Bill” Clyburn wants to end.

“We just have to be careful of what we do about our students and we don’t want them to go to jail, or create a record while they are extremely young.” Clyburn told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

The Aiken-based representative is a sponsor of House Bill 3055, aimed at reforming the school-to-prison-pipeline in South Carolina.

The laws in place right now don’t favor young people facing misdemeanor charges, because many of them end up behind bars.

“We want a system that we can work on, improve on, so that we can give our children a fair chance.” The District 82 Representative said. “Of course we want discipline in the school we won’t have it any other way.”

The house bill forms a committee, of parents, teachers and law enforcement officers, that review the laws in place and offers recommendations to deter students from the criminal juvenile justice system.

“That’s not working, so they are looking for a different avenue.” Lt. Vicky Gaskins, of the Juvenile Division with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Clyburn says the bill is flexible and puts most of the efforts to stop the pipeline on school leaders.

Those tasked with reforming the system know they have a long road ahead, but it’s more than needed to keep thousands of Palmetto State kids out of prison system.

“It is certainly good for students who could be preparing themselves for life and so it’s just good for society all around.” Clyburn said.

Representative Clyburn tells NewsChannel 6 he’s very confident the bill will pass this year.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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