Equitable justice committee met to discuss the state’s shortcomings in criminal justice

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Protests are continuing across the country as many demand criminal justice reform. South Carolina lawmakers are looking at what can be done to prevent a death like George Floyd’s or Breonna Taylor’s.

The committee held a meeting Tuesday afternoon where members learned more about the state’s shortcomings in criminal justice.

The equitable justice system and law enforcement reform committee represents 15% of the house representatives. It’s a bipartisan group of lawmakers from every corner of the state.

Their ultimate goal is to improve the criminal justice system in South Carolina for all residents.

The group is looking at four main key areas:

  • Police training
  • Sentencing reform
  • Criminal procedures like no knock warrants and cash bail
  • Civil forfeiture laws (when officers can seize personal property)

One law professor says those forfeiture laws, unfairly penalize black and low income citizens.

“The racial and economic bias present in forfeiture enforcement and the lack of innocent victims to regain ownership of their seized assets, legislation to do away with civil forfeiture would lessen the impact of seizures on families an individuals,” said Andrea Dennis, Associate Dean for UGA School of Law.

Lawmakers will also look at repealing certain acts that could lead to deadly consequences like the state’s current citizen’s arrest statue which allows for the use of deadly force.

The group will also look at re-entry boards to monitor inmates returning to society as well as independent investigations of officer involved shootings or situations that lead to a civilian’s death.

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