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      Probation and parole agency seeks more agents

      South Carolina's probation and parole agency wants more money to oversee offenders and keep them from returning to prison.

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's probation and parole agency wants more money to oversee offenders and keep them from returning to prison.

      Probation, Pardon and Parole Services Director Kela Thomas told a House panel Wednesday that her agency has been successful in reducing repeat offenders. Thomas said she needs more agents to continue that progress.

      Officials say the 2010 sentencing reform law is decreasing the number of nonviolent prisoners, but the parole agents that oversee them are overwhelmed with one of the country's highest caseloads. Thomas says each agent has an average of 93 cases.

      Gov. Nikki Haley has recommended that legislators fund an additional 25 parole agents. The agency also wants six employees for an inmate treatment program and two employees to reduce the backlog of parole-eligible inmates awaiting evaluation.

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