Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005
needed for criminal domestic violence
SC Statehouse Report
SEPT. 25, 2005 - - Attorney General Henry McMaster is onto
something: South Carolina needs more prosecutors for criminal
a recent special legislative meeting on domestic violence,
McMaster proposed that lawmakers fund a special CDV prosecutor
in each of the states 46 counties. The cost? About $2.2
million per year.
When you consider the 36,000 annual incident reports of domestic
violence filed with South Carolina authorities every year,
McMasters proposal makes sense. When you consider the
fact our state is number one in the nation in the number of
women killed by men and number three in the overall domestic
violence rate, it makes sense to get even tougher on this
crime. And when you consider the brutality to victims, the
terror it causes to family and the way it mutes progress,
McMaster is on target.
For the last two years, the state Attorney Generals
office has run a pilot program in a few jurisdictions to see
whether free private lawyers in courtrooms - - generally lower
level magistrates courts for criminal domestic violence
- - would make a difference.
McMaster says the programs have boosted the conviction rate
from somewhere around one-third of domestic violence cases
to 77 percent. In other words, by having an advocate in the
courtroom where none has existed sends a message that theres
someone to help the victim. (Imagine what youd do when
you as a victim were charging someone with a crime and the
other person showed up in court with a lawyer, but there was
no one to help you prosecute that person, with whom you have
an emotional relationship.)
Earlier this year, state lawmakers toughened penalties for
criminal domestic violence. The new law, which takes effect
in January, makes a first conviction a misdemeanor that carries
up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000. A second offense
also is a misdemeanor, but will be tried in circuit court
and carry a sentence of up to one year in jail and a $5,000
fine. (The current penalty is 30 days in jail or a $500 fine.)
Unless we have prosecutors in the room to utilize those
laws, the full effect will not be realized, McMaster
said in an interview. When there is a prosecutor in
the courtroom, the chance for justice increases dramatically.
McMaster said he realized his pro bono pilot project has been
working, but that volunteer lawyers would not be enough over
time to provide the stability and consistency to tackle the
states domestic battering problem.
Having been able to see the effect of these additional
prosecutors, it is clear that we need more, he said.
We cant ask these volunteers to carry the whole
.We need a larger army to fight these
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McMaster, former chair of the state Republican Party, isnt
about to ask for higher taxes or use a third of his already
stretched $6 million annual budget to pay for the additional
prosecutors. The proposal for CDV prosecutors, he says, is
a question of state priorities for lawmakers to consider.
But he does point out that an investment in 46 prosecutors
at an estimated $2.2 million likely would pay for itself.
If, for example, the state were to boost its conviction rate
of 36,000 domestic violence cases from one third to two thirds
(12,000 new convictions) and if each batterer were ordered
to pay a fine of at lease $500, the state would generate $6
million in revenue - - three times what is needed to pay for
Maybe the state shouldnt use domestic violence as a
way to make money to fund government, but whats
the alternative? More violence or doing nothing? Surely, South
Carolina first should make curbing domestic violence become
a Palmetto Priority. Having more prosecutors, regardless of
how much their success generates, state revenues, will help
with pants down
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
To send a message to cartoonist Bill McLemore,
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Doesn't like Red Cross
To the editor:
Your latest email suggest that the two best ways to "help"
the victims of Katrina is to make donations to the American
Red Cross and the Salvation Army. My concern is based on memories
of the huge amount of funds that were left over at the Amer
Red Cross after 9-11; and the fact that altho I have followed
the Katrina disaster on several networks every day, I haven't
seen a single ARC or SAL Army compound to help with any needs.
I realize that the absolutely disgusting, embarrassing local/state
"management" ??? caused horrific problems in New
Orleans, the fact that ARC & the SalArmy were never seen
helping any of the victims/the dying/the dead immediately
- I can't believe that they could be held back in such a period
of need within the first few days.
I'm sorry, we will be donating only daily necessary supply
items (diapers, formula, toilet paper, juice, canned vegetables,
toothpaste, soap, etc) no more cash, because I am paranoid
about the misuse of any funds being made available to use
in particularly Louisiana.
-- Deborah Shealy Nye, Summit, SC
9/21: Just property tax system needed
To the editor:
I read your August 24th commentary
in the Hartsville Messenger "Market is driving
property taxes". Indeed property tax values have risen
- but the mechanics that drive the property tax system remain
flawed. In Darlington County, the "five year revaluation"
process took place last summer. Since we purchased a property
within the last five years, the assessed value of our home
was brought up to the purchase value. Now my understanding
of a reassessment is that ALL properties should be assessed
at a appropriate market value. However, while researching
my neighborhood values I learned that properties of equal
or better market values were assessed at a values lower than
our home (using a cost per square foot analysis.)
I appealled our assessment on the basis that market values
reflected unilaterally. The Auditors/Assessors office informed
there was a proviso in the law or actually a proposed law
followed by the
county (I do not recall the bill number) that prevented raising
properties by more than 20% - but excludes sold or improved
If any property tax system is to be fair - than this kind
assessments or revisions is grossly unjustified. The rule
was, as I
understand it, designed to limit the issue you examined in
whereby coastal and tourism areas are experiencing dramatic
values. A better "reassessment" would be to increase
properties to a
market value and then assess the total need of the taxing
determine the appropriate millage rates. Whereas in your example
coastal properties have increased dramatically - the needs
of the local
particapting governments should not fill their coffers with
-but to reduce the overall tax rate to everyone.
I think SC has a long way to go in admistering a just property
My letter to the governor/senators offices were acknowledged
passing judgement (sic)- typical politics.
-- Kendall Schwoyer, Hartsville, SC
9/20: Watching a power struggle
To the editor:
I enjoyed reading your article (Commentary,
9/18) about the Governors issues, and must agree
with much of what you say. However, it also occurs to me that
a lot of people have forgotten that the citizens of SC voted
for Sanford because he said he would do much of what he has
tried to do. The greater issue, that you touched on, is that
we are watching a power struggle between the legislature and
the governor. Both sides think they have a better vision for
the state. Neither side wants to give up any power.
As someone that has watched the state move from Democratic
Party control to Republican Party control, I say that not
much has changed in the state legislature. Senators still
think they have power and should use it, lobbyists have simply
changed friends, political patronage still seems to be based
on nepotism and personal relationships, and everybody is mad
at the governor because he wont play the game. Its
as if the Republicans expect to get theirs after waiting years
to kick the Democrats out of power.
If it was left to me, I turn the Legislature into a part-time,
every other year body, and let Sanford go to it. It would
not be any worse than what we have had, or have now.
-- Addison Ingle, Charleston, S.C.
9/20: Too busy whining
To the editor:
In your latest partisan diatribe against Governor Sanford
9/18), you suggest that he steer $400 million to small
businesses to help them create jobs all over the state. Like
most liberals, you're too busy whining about problems to notice
solutions. Rather than inefficiently allowing government to
over-tax small businesses and then redistribute those dollars
back to them, why not just let small businesses keep more
of their money in the first place, to help them create jobs?
Guess what? - that's what most of us call a tax reduction
- and that's exactly what Governor Sanford has done. As a
result of his leadership, the good ole boys in the legislature
finally agreed to lower the income tax for small businesses
to 5% - the same rate paid by the bigger companies. This tax
reduction starts next year so those dollars, and those jobs,
you want for small businesses are already coming. I know that
you probably don't consider them since we've eliminated government
- your favorite middleman - from this equation.
-- Todd Eischeid, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
(Editor's note: Eischeid is a co-founder
Sticky Finger Restaurants; another co-founder is Chad Walldorf,
who formerly served as deputy chief of staff for Sanford.)
on property taxes, Alvin Jones, Easley, SC
energy is realistic,
Tom deTreville, Beaufort, SC
to serve is to drive slower,
Samuel Tenenbaum, Lexington, SC
Julius L. Brown, Hartsville, S.C.
tax isn't fair,
Ron McElhannon, Hartsville, SC
Warner B. Huck, Hilton Head Island, SC
Calbert W. Johnson, Bishopville,
learning is growing,
Prof. David Bossman, Seton
Hall University and part-time Charleston resident
on poverty, higher ed
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
poverty will take years of committment: The poor
and working poor comprise about one in four South Carolinians.
State officials need to remember them in public policy
decisions - - and do more to make their lives better
because if we cant do more to help those in need
of help, what does that say about our values?
In The State:
sure Katrina inspires a new, smart war on poverty:
"Whether you believe that people live in destitute
poverty because government programs have failed them
or because government has failed to fund those programs,
it should be clear that we have not found a solution
to poverty. Some programs most assuredly have nurtured
a culture of dependency; others just as surely would
lift more people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency
if they were properly funded."
In Statehouse Report:
needs to be a leader: "As Sanford the libertarian
wants to slash and starve government, Sanford the politician
realizes it is going to continue and wants to centralize
its power under (guess who) the governor's office. That's
why you've seen pushes to create a regent's council
to centralize the state's higher education bureaucracy.
In the Charleston City Paper:
man on campus: "He would like to see the creation
of a board that would centralize the managemetn of the
schools and be the sole arbiter of tuition rates. Hmm
... would that be increasing the size of government?
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Leatherman. It's good Senate Finance Committee Chair
Hugh Leatherman is asking for an attorney general's opinion
on a questionable diversion of $105 million by Comptroller
General Richard Eckstrom to plug a deficit hole. We think
Eckstrom overstepped his authority.
McMaster. Hats off to AG Henry McMaster for proposing
to do more to fight criminal domestic violence.
State Ports Authority. In addition to a series of
unflattering articles this week in the Beaufort Gazette, the
State Ports Authority argued with Jasper County in the S.C.
Supreme Court that it needed to keep its monopoly on port
Sanford. Gov. Mark Sanford still isn't trying to work
with lawmakers. Now he's blaming them for Medicaid's problems.
Hasn't he ever heard the axiom that you attract more flies
with honey than vinegar?
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