Bond reform legislation gains steam in South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A bill designed to crack down on offenders who commit violent crimes while out on bond in South Carolina passed the state’s House of Representatives.
But opponents argued Wednesday it might be unconstitutional.
Bond reform is a priority for leaders at the State House this year, with the governor calling, multiple times, for lawmakers to get such a bill to his desk this session.
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“If we can have one more tool that protects one more life while affording the due process that’s important to all of us, we need to do it,” said Rep. Tommy Pope, House speaker pro tem.
Under this bill, people who commit a violent crime while out on bond for another violent offense would automatically have that initial bond revoked.
Then a new bond hearing would have to be held in circuit court within 14 days.
If they’re granted bond on that second offense, they’d have to pay it in full in cash.
If the person is ultimately convicted of that subsequent violent crime – and found to have committed it while out on bond — they’d have a mandatory, additional five years tacked onto their prison sentence – though that could be served concurrently with their time for the offense itself.
Some lawmakers argued this would be unfair and potentially unconstitutional – to add on that time for someone who was not found guilty of that initial charge – because without it, they wouldn’t have been out on bond in the first place.
“What we face with this legislation is taking away time from individuals who very well may be innocent, and that may not bother you as long as it’s not you,” said Rep. Ivory Thigpen, D-Richland.
Other opponents argue this isn’t an issue with state law that needs to be fixed because the law already provides a remedy for these situations.
They contend if someone commits a violent crime while out on bond – the solicitor can file a motion to revoke bond – but solicitors have to use that option.
With the House passing this bill – it now heads to the Senate, which is already considering its own bond reform legislation.
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