In the latest acknowledgment that violent crime in South Carolina is spiraling out of control, the top federal prosecutor for the Palmetto State announced a new initiative this week aimed at reining it in. On Wednesday, interim U.S. attorney Corey Ellis announced his office would be “enhancing its violent crime reduction efforts and strengthening its coordination with state and local partners.”
The goal of this new cooperation? “To identify and disrupt the drivers of violent crime throughout the state,” according to Ellis.
The announcement from Ellis comes on the heels of an exceptionally bloody weekend in South Carolina, which the prosecutor acknowledged in a statement accompanying the launch of the initiative.
It also came one day after a school shooting in Texas killed 21 people – including 19 school children.
“Gun violence erupted across the state again last weekend, continuing an unwelcome upward trend of violent crime in South Carolina,” Ellis said . “Unfortunately, no place in our state is immune from this violence, whether it be a school, a shopping mall, or a kids’ baseball game. In response, we are adapting our already robust efforts to address violent crime in South Carolina. We will continue to work diligently with our state and local law enforcement agencies and with federal partners to identify and bring to justice those who commit violent acts.”
According to Ellis, he and federal prosecutors met yesterday with leaders from twenty different federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies located in and around the Midlands region of South Carolina.
Between now and June 14, 2022, similar coalition meetings will be held in the Upstate, Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions of the state.
Mark Keel – chief of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – was among the law enforcement leaders in attendance at Ellis’ initial gathering.
“Collaboration with our federal partners is crucial to combat violent gun crime in South Carolina,” Keel said. “Real solutions will take leadership from parents, teachers, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, public defenders, mental health practitioners, legislators, community groups and other stakeholders to comprehensively address violent crime in South Carolina.”
Keel has been sounding the alarm about escalating violent crime in the Palmetto State for years – although policymakers have repeatedly failed to heed his warnings.
“As a state we must address the most pressing issue affecting every community in South Carolina,” Keel said. “Without courageous leadership from all stakeholders, I fear little will stem the violence we are currently experiencing.”
(Click to view)
(Via: Columbia S.C. Photographers Travis Bell)
According to my sources, the incident responsible for setting this new initiative in motion was a mass shooting at Columbiana Mall last month that left twelve people injured.
Miraculously, no one died in that shooting …
Ellis’ news release was light on specifics, but he indicated his office would be “adapting its violent crime intake strategy” to prioritize offenders who …
- Have recent violent felony or domestic violence convictions;
- Have recently been released from custody or were on state bond for a violent crime;
- Have serious drug convictions;
- Have ties to gang activity; or
- Are engaged in trafficking firearms.
Wait a minute …. the feds will be targeting violent offenders who were “on state bond for a violent crime?”
Well, well … you don’t say.
My news outlet has extensively chronicled (and exhaustively criticized) excessive judicial leniency in South Carolina – and the fatal consequences it has had for citizens of the Palmetto State. There is simply no denying that judges’ habitual coddling of violent criminals has contributed mightily to the rise of violent crime across the board.
My news outlet has called out both judges and prosecutors for their perpetual accommodation of violent criminals – whether in the bonds they dole out, the sentences they administer or their utter failure to move cases.
Oh, and let’s not forget the real culprits: Powerful lawyer-legislators in the S.C. General Assembly who handpick judges, set their salaries, control their budgets … then reap the ill-gotten rewards of this auhority. As I have often noted, South Carolina is one of only two states in America in which lawmakers elect judges.
That must stop …
If the feds are truly serious about targeting violent criminals – especially those who have managed to consistently evade accountability at the state level – then I applaud them. And I look forward to seeing the positive public safety outcomes of their “enhanced” and “adapted” strategy.
In the meantime, though, South Carolinians must insist upon fundamental court reform which addresses bonds, monitoring, sentencing, docket efficiency and … most critically … judicial selection.
If we have learned anything in the Palmetto State in recent years it is that accommodating violence breeds more violence. If we want to see less of something, we need to stop incentivizing it … and start refusing to tolerate it.
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.
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