Sheriff vs. Judges
Sheriff David Taylor is just about fed up with seeing the same criminals going back and forth between the court system and his jail cells.
"We're seeing 20% of the people commit 80% of the crimes," says Taylor.
After a repeat offender was caught Monday with 5 ounces of marijuana less than a week after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute, Taylor spoke out. He said in a release to the media that "General Sessions Court judges are a joke!" At the same time, Taylor praised solicitors and magistrate judges for doing a good job enforcing the law.
"I don't have a problem with solicitors. We all have difference of opinion, that's what makes us human. Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do they always agree with me? Absolutely not. We can work through that, but when it comes to court, we have no say into the decision the judge makes as to whether [a suspect] gets time or gets probation," said Taylor.
South Carolina has 49 circuit judges for the state's 16 different circuits, which encompass multiple counties. Those judges are elected by lawmakers in the state legislature to serve six-year terms. That system is unlike other states such as North Carolina, where judges on every level are elected by the public.
"I have to answer to the people of this county," said Taylor. "If they're not happy with me, they replace me in 4 years. The method we have in our state is not working, hopefully we can come up with a better solution."
Last week, state representative Phyllis Henderson (R - Greenville) said she'd introduce changes to state laws regarding bond and repeat offenders in the state legislature in January. She also said that lawmakers may need to take a closer look at judges' records before voting.
"When we have circuit court judges that come up for reappointment, and we have some next year. We're gonna look at their record. And if they're letting people out of jail that shouldn't be out of jail, we're not gonna support them," said Henderson.