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Governor Henry McMaster Directs Solicitors to Seek Attorney General’s Approval Before Reducing Criminal Sentences

October 19, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. –  In an effort to restore the public’s confidence in our state’s criminal justice system through increased transparency and accountability, Governor Henry McMaster today wrote a letter to South Carolina's State Circuit Solicitors directing them to provide at least ten days' notice to the attorney general before filing any future motions to reduce a criminal sentence. Additionally, the governor is requesting Attorney General Alan Wilson review any such early release motions to ensure compliance with state law.

The governor's directive follows the early release of convicted murderer Jeroid Price and the identification of 26 other similar, or potentially similar, early release cases by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).  

"While I will continue to advocate for tougher criminal laws and penalties and urge the General Assembly to take prompt action, unfortunately, recent events have revealed that it is not sufficient simply to arrest, convict, and incarcerate criminals, but we must also ensure that they stay in prison," Governor McMaster wrote in his letter. 

In April, Governor McMaster requested that SCDC Director Bryan Stirling review SCDC's records and attempt to identify any early release scenarios similar, or potentially similar, to Price's case. Director Stirling identified a list of 26 other cases from January 1, 2022, through April 24, 2023, and provided the corresponding court orders to Governor McMaster, Attorney General Wilson, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel. 

"In light of our recent experience with the Jeroid Price matter, it is imperative that the State review any previous (and potentially similar) early release orders to confirm compliance with the applicable law, and I appreciate Attorney General Wilson’s ongoing assistance in doing so. However, after-the-fact awareness of these incidents alone is not sufficient," Governor McMaster continued. 

Price was released from prison on March 15 after serving 19 years of his 35-year sentence for the 2002 murder of Carl Smalls Jr. The S.C. Supreme Court vacated the order reducing Price's sentence on April 26, and law enforcement captured Price on July 17.