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Bond reform bill on way to passage in SC General Assembly

With less than a month to go in this year’s session of the General Assembly it appears lawmakers will enact legislation they view as a priority under the broad description of judicial reform. Specifically, reducing the number of illegal weapons used in violent crimes, and tightening-up the state’s bond system to deny repeat offenders the opportunity to commit crimes while already out on bond for an earlier crime.

Standing next to Governor Henry McMaster at the Statehouse this week, SLED Chief Mark Keel said, "the cycle of violence the state is experiencing must stop."

This week, the State Senate approved a House passed bill to reform the bond system. The Senate bill zeroes-in on steadily increasing bond amounts for defendants accused of violent crimes and gun felonies.

The Senate made significant changes to the House version of the bill, but lawmakers seem confident they can come up with a compromise to send to the Governor.

While most attention at the Statehouse is directly focused on enacting stronger criminal justice laws, some contend that judges, whom state lawmakers select, are too lenient, letting too many dangerous defendants out on bond, and that long delays in criminal trials and sentencings allow defendants to remain out on bond for too long.

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs. He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta. He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.