Charleston County solicitor announces plan to cut down on repeat offenders

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County solicitor has announced plans the office is taking to cut down on repeat offenders.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced a four point plan intended to hold repeat offenders accountable and to help resolve their cases expeditiously.

"It's not just repeat offenders, it's repeat dangerous offenders," Wilson said. "We have all resolved to shut the revolving jail door and to stop the bleeding."

There were local representatives, police chiefs, sheriffs and mayors who came out to show support.

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds was among them.

“We will save lives there’s no question," Reynolds said. "One hundred percent, we will save lives. There’s a very small number of people who are disproportionately responsible for violent crimes for our shootings, our homicides. Those people that are carrying guns that continue to get arrested and rearrested that are convicted violent offenders, those are the people that we’re talking about.”

The four points include the following:

  • Increase options for low level and first time offenders
  • Expand the use of PR bonds for Low Level and First Time Non-Violent Offenders
  • Begin process to get legislation approved to assist these efforts
  • Enforce bond conditions

More specifically the plan includes helping low level first time offenders by removing obstacles to the expungement process and helping them through programs like pretrial intervention and drug and mental health courts.

By keeping non-violent offenders out of jail, it creates more space for those who commit violent crimes.

Wilson says repeat offenders are continually out on bond and they abuse guns. She says they are also contributing to the back logs.

Another part of the plan includes increased penalties for repeat gun offenders and for dangerous offenders convicted of committing a crime while out of jail on bond.

Sen. Sandy Senn says she’s proposed a bill that would stiffen penalties for repeat gun offenders. Another bill looks to enforce minimum bond requirements for criminals.

Senn says she received complaints from bail bond companies that judges were letting people off too easily with violent crimes. She said judges noticed that some bail bond companies were letting people get of jail for payment as low as $25 and then financing the rest of the bond money owed.

“The bondsman will say,'Okay look, I’m a bondsman on one hand and then I’ll put on my finance ears cap and finance the rest of the bond,'” Senn said. “That makes it too easy for the really bad people to get of jail.”

The legislation would have to go through several levels of approval at the statehouse before it becomes law.

The solicitor also says they plan to increase solicitor and law enforcement presence at initial bond hearings to provide more context to the cases before bond is set.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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