Residents invited to take part in local justice system assessment

PICKENS — Representatives from the National Institute of Corrections are in Pickens County this week at the request of sheriff Rick Clark to conduct a two-day assessment and evaluation of the county’s criminal justice system.

The two-day program, planned for Wednesday and Thursday, is federally funded and does not require local tax dollars, according to a news release from chief deputy Creed Hashe.

On the first day of the evaluation, colleagues from all of the internal entities will come together to analyze the system’s current strengths and weaknesses so that a roadmap can be developed for future improvements. Representatives from Pickens County Council, the sheriff’s office, solicitor’s office, clerk’s office, and judges from circuit and summary courts will partner during the two-day summit to offer their input into the quest for a more efficient and expedient process.

On day two, the session is open to the public, and Clark is encouraging anyone that has an interest in the local criminal justice system and the future vision for Pickens County to attend. The public forum will be open from 2-6 p.m. Thursday at the Pickens County Council chambers.

“It is very important that our citizens participate in the program and give their input as we try to build a more efficient criminal justice system,” Clark said. “As I travel to all parts of the county and speak with Pickens County residents, everyone seems to be in agreement that we have to plan for additional jail space so the criminals are not prematurely returned back to our community because of overcrowding.

“Our citizens have made it very clear that criminals should be in jail and not in our communities. Please try to attend this meeting and learn what we are trying to do for Pickens County.”