Some disappointing news came out recently related to juvenile crime in South Carolina – which has been a hot topic this summer.
According to federal data published by the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ), the Palmetto State ranks ninth nationally in terms of juvenile arrests. The data is from 2017, and according to reporter Georgiaree Godfrey of WSPA TV 7 (CBS – Greenville/ Spartanburg, S.C.) it shows more than 13,000 juvenile arrests being processed through the federal system that year.
Meanwhile, an estimated 10,000 cases were referred to SCDJJ – resulting in 1,000 incarcerations.
These numbers are likely to surge in 2019 (and thereafter) – not necessarily because of an expected uptick in criminal activity, but because South Carolina is changing how it classifies juveniles. Thanks to legislation (Act 268 of 2016) signed by former governor Nikki Haley three years ago, beginning on July 1, 2019 the juvenile population in the Palmetto State – for criminal justice purposes – will expand to include 17-year-olds.
“We see this as an opportunity to serve and empower a population of 17-year-olds who otherwise would’ve entered into the adult criminal justice system before reaching adulthood,” SCDJJ director Freddie Pough said in a statement earlier this year.
Pough added that raising the age was “a positive step for juvenile justice in our state,” although he acknowledged the change would result in “an overall increase in population at our secure facilities, not to mention added caseloads for community staff.”
And just in case our readers had forgotten, this agency was a proverbial dumpster fire before the change.
(Click to view)
This news outlet has no position on the juvenile classification issue, however we remain exceedingly concerned about the extent to which our society is elevating the rights of offenders at the expense of their victims. We understand everyone makes mistakes, and that second chances are often warranted – particularly as it relates to those who commit non-violent crimes.
Also, this news outlet has argued for years in support of decriminalizing drugs for recreational purposes (with certain caveats).
But please … let’s never forget that those who enter our justice system as criminal defendants are not the victims. Or are rarely the victims, anyway.
Sure there are exceptions, but as we seek justice for the wrongfully accused we cannot turn justice itself upside down for everybody else. Making offenders out to be victims not only endangers us as a society, it distorts victimhood – and ultimately perverts justice.
Bigger picture? Until South Carolina addresses its pervasive academic woes (and corresponding dearth of opportunity) with free market solutions, we are going to continue to foster a climate in which crime is seen by too many among us as the best – and in some cases the only option on the table for them.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Please feel free to submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for us? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.