The damage to DJJ staff, inmates and property during gang violence at the Broad River Road complex in Columbia are only part of distressing developments at the state agency.
An analysis of the late February outbreak made it clear that the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice administration is falling down on its critical job. …
DJJ is short 30 to 35 officers, and for the past two and a half years has had no police chief or gang specialist. Those who work at the complex are afraid for their own safety.
In the past DJJ has struggled because of budget shortfalls, but currently the agency has $3 million in its budget untouched because of unfilled positions. A police chief search was launched only five months ago. Who’s minding the store?
Child advocates have reported that behavioral and educational programming has degraded, and that solitary confinement has been overused. This follows devastating reports in the last few years of inadequate staffing and mistreatment of children under the care of the state’s Department of Social Services.
It is shocking that two state agencies that deal with at-risk juveniles have tolerated such abuses.
Tobacco tax hike
A recent survey by the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative shows broad support for another increase in the state’s cigarette tax, with 73 percent of those surveyed favoring an increase. …
Study after study show increases in the tax on tobacco products directly lead to a reduction in the use of those products. For example, between 2011 and 2013 — the years immediately following South Carolina’s cigarette tax increase — smoking among students declined 23.7 percent. Research also is clear that tobacco products cause deadly health problems that exact a significant human and financial toll. Thus, raising the tobacco tax to reduce use and those deadly costs makes sense.
South Carolina’s current cigarette tax is 57 cents. It ranks 44th in the nation.
Help for S.C. farmers
The losses suffered by South Carolina’s farmers in 2015 are well documented: Drought and then flooding, with the final result a disaster of major proportions.
Last October’s torrential rains wiped out $330 million in S.C. crops at harvest time. Farmers lost an additional $45 million because they couldn’t plant winter crops in bogs, according to the S.C. Department of Agriculture. Counting losses from the spring freeze and summer drought, the total loss is estimated near $600 million.
Debate continues on what if any help farmers will receive. But time is short.
South Carolina Farm Bureau President and Calhoun County farmer Harry Ott recently told The Times and Democrat that aid to farmers must arrive soon if many are to have money to plant crops for 2016. …
With no crop this year, some farmers won’t be around for 2017.