Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

South Carolina’s purpose clause is more detailed and lengthy than most other states.  It is a state “children’s policy” with a focus on prevention, child and family involvement, and coordinated services.  Last amended in 2008, elements include but go beyond parens patriae language, and phrases were noted from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997).  The section mentions that youth who violate the law and found in need of treatment or rehabilitation with multiple needs should receive services from cooperative efforts of judicial, governmental (exec, state, local) and public/private agencies, which is consistent with juvenile justice system accountability from the BARJ model.  Child-serving agencies are required to submit budgets and annual reports to the General Assembly that show alignment with the children’s policy. 

SC ST §63-1-20

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

In South Carolina, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) must establish community-based diversion programs, which vary by jurisdiction. Once a law enforcement officer (LEO) takes custody of a child, court jurisdiction instantly attaches. The LEO may release the child home when an adult promises to bring the child to court. The report and copy of the summons must be submitted to DJJ Intake Counselor/designee (JPO) within 24 hours. If, instead, the LEO takes the child to a court-authorized place of detention, for certain violent offenses, the particular officer taking the child into custody must consent to the child’s release home, or the decision goes before the court within 48 hours. The judge may establish conditions for release and will assign a JPO for intake. With continued detention, review hearings are held every 7 days until the adjudication hearing (should be within 40 days).

Otherwise, a complaint/petition can be submitted by virtually any person. Once received, the intake JPO conducts a pre-hearing inquiry regarding prosecution. The JPO’s recommendation is reviewed by the circuit solicitor/designee (DA), who makes the decision whether to dismiss, divert, or prosecute. Violent allegations exclude juveniles from diversion unless administered by the SC Commission on Prosecution Coordination or the DA. Most juveniles are diverted by the DA through juvenile arbitration programs.

When the judge makes a determination, conditional release can include: probation supervision, referral to diversion/prevention programs, juvenile arbitration, volunteer services, restitution, community-work programs, family counseling, and (for delinquent allegations) offense-specific sanctions. Juveniles cannot be committed for institutional corrections services until adjudicated delinquent.

No statutory time limit/s for court diversions exist.

In South Carolina, time limits are not specified in statute.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

Restricted by legislature

South Carolina statute 6 SC ST § 63-19-1435 (eff. 6/2/14) states if a juvenile appears before the court wearing restraints, the proceeding may not continue unless the court finds that the use of restraints is necessary [(threat of harm to self/other, disruptive courtroom behavior, flight risk with demonstrated evidence] AND no less restrictive alternative will prevent flight or harm. The juvenile’s attorney has the opportunity to be heard before the court orders use of restraints. If ordered, findings of fact in support of the order are required.

Competency, 2015

South Carolina’s Health Code contains a statutory reference to “when a circuit or family court judge has reason to believe that a person on trial before him, charged with the commission of a criminal offense or civil contempt, is not fit to stand trial…as a result of a lack of mental capacity,” the judge must order examination. The statute aligns with the Dusky standard and includes court procedures and detailed criteria for evaluators and elements of the report/s, depending on reason/s for suspecting mental illness, intellectual disability or a related disability, and when dually diagnosed.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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