The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS) is tackling the state’s domestic violence issue with new special agents.

South Carolina continues to be among the top five states in the nation for domestic violence after more than two decades.

In just two years, the number of offenders has increased by 126 percent.

“So, if we’re going to really be good at what we do, we’ve got to get specialized in knowing what it is that we’re up against and most importantly, train,” SCDPPPS Director Jerry Adger explained.

The state agency is receiving a recurring fund of more than a million dollars each year to be used for 20 agents, who will receive specialized training to supervise domestic violence offenders.

The special agents must complete a 40-hour training course on laws and new policies. They will also work with victim advocates.

“We think this will help the victims and survivors of these incidents because we will be better trained as how to handle the situation,” Jennifer Brice of SCDPPPS said.

“They should be elated that we’re taking a look at this,” Adger said of the greater community.

The agents will only work with domestic violence offenders. They will have smaller caseloads to allow them to focus on home visits and to help connect offenders to resources.

Nancy Barton with Sistercare, a nonprofit that provides services and advocacy for domestic abuse survivors and their children, said she hopes the new agents will also help survivors.

“Hopefully, a well-organized program of supervision will say clearly to the offender no contact at all. Any contact is a violation of probation,” Barton said. “That the new agents stay in contact with the victims as well, to ensure victims are notified right away if there is any sort of re-offending or threats.”

Adger said thanks to a pilot program in York County, more than 70 percent of those domestic violence offenders did not re-offend.

The program will expand to another 11 counties including Richland, Orangeburg and Lexington.

Adger said current agents can apply for the new position starting this week. Agents who are promoted will receive a pay increase.

The agency supervises 1,651 domestic violence offenders and a total of more than 29,000 offenders on probation, parole and other forms of criminal supervision in South Carolina.