As my news outlet previewed yesterday, violent crime in South Carolina skyrocketed in 2020 according to preliminary data released this week by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – reaching an all-time high since the advent of modern record-keeping in 1960.
According to a news release from SLED, murders in South Carolina soared by 24.9 percent – jumping from 457 in 2019 to 571 last year. Over the past five years, murders in the Palmetto State have increased by 51 percent.
Meanwhile, aggravated assaults jumped from 19,469 to 21,272 – a 9.2 percent increase.
Overall, violent crime climbed 5 percent in 2020 and is up 11 percent since 2015.
“As I said last year, I am extremely concerned by the increasing amount of violence in our state including the number of murders and assaults,” SLED chief Mark Keel said in a statement. “I am particularly troubled at the steady increase in the number of murders taking place. We have seen murders increase 51 percent over the past five years in South Carolina. Gangs, drugs, and criminal’s access to guns continue to play a significant role.”
Never one to mince words, Keel attributed the surge in part to “anti-public safety legislation that puts criminals back on the street and makes our communities less safe.”
While Keel and I disagree when it comes to decriminalizing recreational drugs for adult use (he opposes it, I support it), we are 100 percent simpatico when it comes to the need to keep violent criminals off of the streets.
Sadly, judges in the Palmetto State are failing to do that …
My news outlet has highlight the problem of judicial leniency for several years now – calling on state lawmakers to reject judges who let violent criminals go free. Unfortunately, they have not listened.
Similarly, they have blown money on all manner of frivolity yet failed to fund law enforcement (and the prosecution of violent criminals) in a manner commensurate with its status as a core function of government.
“Republicans” in the S.C. General Assembly elevated Beatty – a former Democratic lawmaker – over my objections back in May of 2007. They have also continued to appoint numerous lenient judges to the bench.
How is that working out? The crime stats do not lie …
Make no mistake: These numbers are worth heeding for any number of reasons. In addition to the escalating, irreparable damage that is being done to crime victims and their families, this rising tide of violence is going to be a huge drain on the economy – and a significant disincentive for businesses to locate in our state.
South Carolina already has an unfriendly tax climate, atrocious government-run schools and awful infrastructure working against it … do our “leaders” really think a surge in violence is going to help?
Enough is enough …
“Republican” lawmakers and local leaders need to get serious about making public safety a priority – beginning with adequately funding law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Lawmakers also need to start putting judges on the bench who will hold violent criminals accountable for their bad behavior rather than perpetually enabling them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Magnum P.I.-style Detroit Tigers’ road lid pictured above).
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