New law aimed at repeat criminal offenders

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --{}Police and prosecutors across the state are applauding Senate Bill 19. It ensures that offenders who are arrested while on bond will appear before a circuit court judge -- not magistrates -- for their bond hearing.

"This bill is specific to people who commit violent crime so it's the worst of the worst," said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

He's been working with lawmakers and prosecutors for seven years to toughen bond procedures for violent criminals. Some of them commit more crimes while free on bond.

"Some of these criminals that we've been dealing with have been out on four, five, six, seven different bonds and they continue to commit more and more crime. So it's hopefully going to stop that revolving door," said Chief Mullen.

He pointed to numerous cases Thursday, including that of Mark Blake.

Court records show he was out of jail on bond for two counts of unlawful carrying of a firearm, and cocaine trafficking when investigators say he shot Charleston police office Cory Goldstein in April 2013.

"This allows judges to deny bond for people who are charged with violent crimes," said Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

She also fought for Senate Bill 19. Along with keeping violent offenders behind bars, she says its passage will help prevent long delays in the court system.

"It's not a silver bullet, but it is another tool in our arsenal that helps us be able to more efficiently process the cases that we have," said Wilson.

Specifically, the law will help law enforcement process cases involving dangerous people who police believe can put the public at risk.

"Keeping them off the street is going to make our communities safer because they're not going to be out and have the ability to victimize the community more," said Chief Mullen.

He said the new law will also allow a judge to revoke previous bonds. Also, it allows a solicitor to be in court and argue why an offender shouldn't be released.