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The ranking Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives crashed a “Republican” budget hearing last week – threatening to cut funding for law enforcement and accusing the Palmetto State’s top cop of not doing his job.
All the while, four GOP lawmakers – including the speaker pro tempore of the House, former prosecutor Tommy Pope – sat on their hands and did nothing.
Sound familiar? That’s been the GOP response to law enforcement funding requests for the last six budget cycles.
Anyway, the testy exchange between S.C. minority leader Todd Rutherford and S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel – which was captured on camera by our own Dylan Nolan – covered a lot of ground.
Aside from the funding discussion, Rutherford blasted Keel for allegedly opposing what some in the “woke justice” world would call “progressive sentencing reform.”
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Keel did not directly address sentencing reform at the budget hearing (and Rutherford did not specifically use that term). Still, when the veteran lawyer-legislator pushed the state’s top cop on the issue, Keel acknowledged that the dramatic reduction in South Carolina’s prison population over the past decade-and-a-half could be viewed by the “common man” as having some correlation with a recent spike in violent crime.
Prior to Keel’s appearance before the S.C. House budget subcommittee, Bryan Stirling – director of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) – testified before the panel on the current Palmetto prison population. According to Stirling, SCDC has seen its inmate population drop from more than 25,000 in late 2007 to under 15,500 today.
Is that a good thing? In some cases, yes … in others, no. Decidedly not.
Whatever the cause of the shrinking prison population, one thing is clear … violent crime is surging in South Carolina. And as this video makes clear, lawyer-legislators like Rutherford and their cronies in the judicial branch of government are a big part of the problem.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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 Washington Senators’ lid pictured above).
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