South Carolina profile
South Carolina has an incarceration rate of 678 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in South Carolina and why.
Jump to COVID-19 data.
38,000 people from South Carolina are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in South Carolina is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 89,000 different people are booked into local jails in South Carolina.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
Also see these South Carolina graphs:
Today, South Carolina’s incarceration rates stand out internationally
In the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.
People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails
See also our detailed graphs about Whites,
in South Carolina prisons and jails.
South Carolina's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Data on COVID-19 in South Carolina jails and prisons
We gave South Carolina a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- South Carolina released fewer people on parole in 2020 than they had in 2019, and approved a smaller percent of parole applications.
- South Carolina is one of 13 states that did not implement any policies to accelerate releases, promote medical parole or compassionate release, prevent incarceration for technical violations of probation and parole, or hasten releases for people incarcerated on minor offenses.
- South Carolina is one of 15 prison systems that has not yet vaccinated more than 60% of the incarcerated population.
For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources:
- Our Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic page tracks criminal justice policy responses to the coronavirus all 50 states
- Prisons are COVID-19 hotspots, but as of mid-May 2021, only 16% of people in South Carolina prisons had gotten a vaccine
- South Carolina is one of only a handful of states that never released details about its plan to vaccinate incarcerated people
- South Carolina released fewer people on parole in 2020 than in 2019
- How many COVID-19 cases in South Carolina communities can be linked to outbreaks in correctional facilities? (data from our report Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread)
- We're tracking South Carolina's medical copay policies in prisons during the pandemic
- State prison and jail population data for May, August, September, December 2020, and February, June, October 2021 (data availability varies by state)
Our other articles about South Carolina