Police, prosecutors want help keeping repeat offenders in jail

By Eric

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Local law enforcement wants to keep repeat offenders in jail, but they're having a hard time. The problem is some suspects who get out before trial are committing more crimes. And there's no law to stop them.

Police and prosecutors are asking Columbia for help.

"I can tell you the majority of defendants prosecuted by my office have more than one case," said Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

It's Wilson's hope these defendants are not given a second chance to commit more crimes.

She's behind Senate Bill 19, which gives a circuit judge the power to revoke bond for violent and most serious offenders. This might seem obvious, but South Carolina's repeat offenders are being released again and again.

"There should be a presumption that they're a danger," Wilson said. "They've shown that, and when you say it seems like common sense, that's what the public is crying out for because they see."

"We've got individuals that get arrest repeatedly. The individual that shot Officer Goldstein back in March was out on multiple bonds for violent crimes," said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

Mullen said it undermines his officers in the field and also hurts investigations.

"They arrest them and within hours or days they're right back out in the community," Mullen said. "And what it does, it really destroys the credibility of all of us."

Mark Blake Jr. had prior charges of drug trafficking before police say he shot Officer Goldstein.

Last weekend three men were arrested in Charleston on drug and weapons charges during a violent crime. They too were out on bond.

Senate Bill 19 has passed the Senate. A companion bill is being explored right now in the Statehouse. Rep. Wendell Gilliard, a supporter of the House bill, said Wednesday a strong message needs to be sent to re-offenders and there will be a price to pay.

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