Crime leaves its victims broken, scared and angry. Crime committed by someone who is on bail for one or more other crimes leaves victims - and the community - outraged.
And it happens. Over and over.
That's why the S.C. Senate voted last year by a 42-0 margin for a bill that would allow the Circuit Court to revoke the bond of someone charged with a subsequent violent crime. And it allows additional penalties for people who commit General Sessions Court offenses while on bond.
In other words, it would accomplish what most fair-minded people would assume should already be the law in South Carolina.
A judge releases someone on bond only if he believes the person will not do further harm or flee. Surely being charged with a violent crime is grounds for revoking the bond.
The House, which received the bill in early May last year and referred it to the Judiciary Committee, is taking up the bill this session. Members should approve the bill post haste.
Doing so would gratify law enforcement officers, mayors, solicitors, victim advocates and the public. And it would deter crime.
City of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen testified before the House subcommittee considering the bill. He told members that circuit judges should be the ones to hear cases involving people charged with serious offenses while out on bond. They would have available to them information about the person's criminal past - information worth considering in order to make a sound decision about revoking bond.
Other related bills also merit study by the General Assembly. One, submitted by Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, would require a person convicted of committing, or attempting to commit, a General Sessions offense while on bond to be imprisoned for five years in addition to the punishment for the principal offense.
One of the primary responsibilities of governments is to keep communities safe. Finding the right formula requires a deft touch. Protecting both the rights of the accused and the safety of citizens can be a difficult balance to strike.
But the people of South Carolina are looking to the Legislature to amend the current laws, which simply do not work.
A good start would be approving the bond revocation bill.
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