When justice is delayed, it is indeed justice denied.
But when punishment is haphazardly administered, that is also an affront to justice — and that sums up the recent revelation by the S.C. Department of Corrections that a prisoner remained in jail for weeks after his sentence was supposed to end.
The sad thing is that it was only the latest example of the corrections department miscalculating an inmate’s release date; in fact, reported Emily Bohatch of The State, there have been at least 13 cases to date.
Two things are clear:
· There must be more collaboration between the Department of Corrections and the court system to keep these errors from occurring in the first place.
· There is a lack of transparency that’s just making the problem worse.
In the latest case, the prisoner’s release date was erroneously set for February 2020 before being properly recalculated to July 2019. But thanks to more paperwork errors, the offender wasn’t actually released until Sept. 25, some 10 weeks after he should have been freed.
That alone is outrageous. But what’s equally shocking? It wasn’t until days after the prisoner was freed that top prison officials even knew about the delays in properly releasing him.
And it points to a level of dysfunction in the S.C. corrections department that runs much deeper than merely sloppy paperwork by rank-and-file employees.
When an offender is appropriately sentenced and placed in one of our state’s prisons, they should certainly serve their time for their crime.
But they shouldn’t serve overtime.
And it’s past time for the Department of Corrections to prevent that from happening.