Joe Riley’s crime initiative

One day last week I was pleased to run into Charleston Mayor Joe Riley (one of the finest examples of Joe-ness holding office today) on an elevator downtown. He was in town to lobby the Legislature for his crime bill — of which I had to admit I had not heard (how's that for an awkward avoidance of a dangling preposition?). He was joined by Attorney General Henry McMaster and SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd in pushing the legislation.

By the time we had arrived at his floor, he had given me a brief outline of it. Fortunately, he also had a staffer send me this release about it
, since I wasn't taking notes on the elevator. The group was pushing for legislation that would, among other things:

  • Allow law enforcers to search people on probation and parole without warrants.
  • Deny bail for repeat offenders.
  • Forbid convicted felons to possess handguns or assault weapons.
  • Increase the penalty for Assault and Battery With Intent to Kill. (On the elevator, the mayor had said something about S.C. lacking an effective attempted murder statute.)
  • Create a separate offense for possessing a firearm while selling, manufacturing, or possessing drugs for distribution.

The mayor seems to be pushing separately (going by the wording on the release), more resources for courts, Solicitor's offices, Probation and Parole, DJJ, and Corrections. Specifically, on that last point, increase funding for drug rehab in prisons.

Here's a story about it in the Charleston paper.

Most of that stuff makes common sense to me, although as with a lot of things that make sense, I wonder where the money will come from with the state cutting back on everything. Anyway, since I ran into the mayor and he shared these proposals with me, I'm sharing them with you.

26 thoughts on “Joe Riley’s crime initiative

  1. Lee Muller

    This is political grandstanding for the ignorant masses and media.
    Maybe Mayor Riley is himself ignorant of the law, and does not realize that his proposals make no sense.
    * The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits the states from granting police searches without cause. Probation and parole cases are discretionary, and conditions can already be set regarding visits and searches within the Constitutional boundaries. And the states cannot grant searches at will that violate the Constitution.
    * The U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to reasonable bail, so you cannot eliminate it for “repeat offenders” (which offenses?). The real problem is judges who are cozy with lawyer legislators and set low bail for those charged with not just one repeat offense, but 20, 30 or 50 offenses. Even worse are the judges who give probation and parole to someone with an increasing seriousness of crimes, from burglary to strong-armed robbery, to rape.
    * It is already a state and federal felony for a felon to possess a firearm or ammunition. Even a misdemeanor, non-violent crime carries a 5-year sentence for firearms possession, which is a ridiculous pandering to the anti-gun and the “get tough” crowds.
    * The penalty for Assault nd Battery with Intent to Kill is already pretty strong. What do you want – the dealth penalty? Again, judges just have to enforce it. Prosecutors have to stop plea-bargaining it down to Simple Assault.
    * There are already multiple charges for possessing or using a firearm during commission of another crime.
    I think Joe Riley is pandering to his dummy consituency in preparation to run for governor.

  2. p.m.

    Thanks, Lee. State law can’t rewrite the U.S. Constitution. You’d think Joe Riley would know that.

  3. bud

    Why not eliminate the drug, gambling and prostitution laws and that will free up plenty of money to enforce “real” crimes. Why on earth is Leon Lott wasting taxpayers money pursuing Michael Phelps for smoking a bong? That has got to be the most ridiculous waste of taxpayer money in the history of the universe. Heck I’d rather see it go toward the purchase of $1400 trashcans. Geez let’s use some common sense.

  4. p.m.

    I tell you what, bud. Suppose Lott drops his case against Phelps and files a class-action suit against Democrats for evading the taxes they themselves enact.

  5. bud

    P.M. the vast majority of congressional scandals over the last few years have been perpetuated by REPUBLICANS. If we lock up the GOP felons along with the tiny handful of dems who paid their taxes late we’d have a real problems balancing the budget.

  6. Lee Muller

    The State newspaper’s making Michael Phelps the lead story two days running is part of their tabloid gossip mentality.
    It really makes S.C. look like a backwater place, too, when Sheriff Lott threatens to prosecute Phelps. But what can Sheriff Lott do when he is cornered by a sensationalists trying to cook up a story?
    Smoking pot is only a misdemeanor in South Carolina, with a $100.00 fine. The penalty is greater for smoking a cigarette in an restaurant than it is for smoking marijuana anywhere else.

  7. Doug Ross

    If we had a flat tax system with no exemptions, we wouldn’t have people breaking the law to try and avoid paying taxes.
    10% to Federal, 5% to the State, and 10% to your local government. That should be more than enough to cover what we need from the government and probably still leave enough for the politicians to line their own pockets. You can add a state, local, and federal gasoline tax to cover road construction.
    Imagine if we had an economy built on innovation instead of tax avoidance. All the collective resources used to create tax shelters and lobby for tax breaks as well as the bureaucracies that exists to process tax forms, audit taxpayers, and prosecute tax cheats would be available to do something productive.
    But it can’t happen because too many non-producers would cry that it’s not fair.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Hey, if we had a flat tax, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t be “breaking the law to try and avoid paying taxes.”

    Of course, I’m not doing that anyway, so never mind.

    By the way, if y’all want to talk Michael Phelps (why you would, I don’t know, but we aims to please) here’s a separate post on that, and if you want to talk tax deadbeats (Geithner, Daschle) or specifically about Daschle dropping out, here’s a post about that.

  9. Doug Ross

    > Of course, I’m not doing that anyway, so never mind.
    But two of Obama’s key people did. And the only reason they fessed up was so they could take a cabinet position.
    Daschle represents the typical politician. Makes his own rules, lines his own pockets using connections made while in office.
    He represents the norm.

  10. p.m.

    Bud, Obama has all but blown all his political capital with the actions of the first two weeks of his presidency. He’s proving the words “Democrat” and “hypocrite” are virtually synonymous. He’s already granted variances to several appointees because they’ve lobbied in areas he’s appointed them to serve, when that just WAS NOT going to happen in his administration.
    The list of the most corrupt politicians of all time has plenty of Democrats on it, bud.
    From a Top 25 list compiled by Keith Olbermann (yes, the MSNBC Democrat sympathizer himself):
    At Number 22: the 1970s Chairman of the House Administration Committee, Democrat Wayne Hays of Ohio. His colleagues in Congress feared him, because if he didn’t like you, he could literally shut off the air conditioning in your office. So nobody said boo when Hays used Administration Committee funds to hire one Elizabeth Ray to be a staff secretary. The scandal only broke when she went to The Washington Post and complained, “I was good enough to be his mistress for two years but not good enough to be invited to his wedding.” Ostensibly a secretary, she admitted: “I can’t type. I can’t file. I can’t even answer the phone.'”
    Number 21: another Illinois Democrat, Dan Rostenkowski. He was accused of putting fake employees on his payroll, using Congressional funds to buy gifts like chairs and ashtrays for his friends, and, most bizarrely, getting several thousand dollars worth of stamps from the Congressional Post Office and trading them in for cash.
    Number 19, Ohio Democrat Congressman James Traficant went to jail for filing false tax returns, racketeering, taking bribes and forcing his Congressional aides to perform chores on his farm and his houseboat.
    Eighteenth on the all-time list of American financial political corruption: the dapper Democratic mayor of New York in the ’30s, Jimmy Walker. Walker’s New York was so rancid that innocent people were often pulled off the street and accused of crimes they had not committed, with an array of professional witnesses ready to testify that they did it. An investigation found that at least 51 guiltless women went to jail when they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, bribe their way out of the extortion scheme. Walker was so guilty he not only resigned as mayor, he resigned and took the first boat for Europe.
    At No. 14 – Democrat House member “Dollar Bill” Bill Jefferson of Louisiana, who officially took $100,000 while hidden FBI cameras rolled, $100 bills, 1,000 hundreds, 900 of them wrapped neatly in aluminum foil, stuffed inside frozen-food containers, packed away in the freezer in his home.
    At No. 13, a Democrat Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner, who had already resigned to take a federal judgeship when Marge Lindheimer Everett filed her 1969 income tax returns. On them she had entered a series of deductions – stock in the company she managed, which owned the Arlington Park and Washington Park racetracks. She had given the stock to Illinois Governor Kerner, so he would build two exits off a new expressway near the racetrack, and she believed she had earned the deduction because bribery was “an ordinary and necessary business expense in Illinois.”
    At No. 12, former House Speaker Jim Wright. The venerable Democrat Texas politico was a master at evading the rules about how much a Congressman could make on the side. He was accused of forcing supporters to give his wife a no-show job, and of doubling his fees for speeches by insisting that groups also make bulk purchases of his book, “Reflections of a Public Man.”
    No. 10: Democrat Congressman Andrew Jackson May of Kentucky. During the second World War, ordnance officers throughout the Army were barraged with phone calls from Congressman May, insisting they award war contracts to the Garsson brothers, two businessmen from New York. The Garssons, of course, were paying Congressman May. But it wasn’t just the money involved. The Garssons were no good at making military materials. Their mortar shells tended to detonate at the wrong time – they killed at least 38 American soldiers.
    No. 8 is the infamous Albert Fall, the Democrat Secretary of the Interior in the Harding Administration, and centerpiece of what was, before Watergate, the consensus choice for worst political scandal in U.S. history: Teapot Dome. Fall was not, as legend has it, the man for whom the term “The Fall Guy” was coined, but he got a lot of coin. Naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, were transferred by President Harding to Fall’s Department of the Interior. Fall promptly leased them to oil barons Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny. They made millions; Fall got first an interest-free loan of $100,000, then another pay-off. This at the time when Babe Ruth only made about $80,000 a year.
    No. 1: Democrat William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, whose graft was on the scale of the gods. All who came before him are comparative trivia; those who have followed, frustrated wannabe’s unable to emulate the greatest of the great. A simple New York alderman who rose to control the city’s political machine and the government itself, he is perhaps best judged by this fact: In two and two-thirds years while all the city’s construction work and a thousand employees were under his control, from 1868 to 1870, the debt of the city of New York rose from $36 million to a $136 million. And in that span, there had been almost nothing new built in the city.
    The living monument to his blinding felonious brilliance is the Tweed Courthouse, still standing.
    Even in the 1870’s, the three million dollars it actually cost to build was a phenomenon of largesse. But the city didn’t pay three million for it. Your cost? Thirteen million!
    When finally arrested in October, 1872, Boss Tweed was held on bail of $8 million — the 2008 equivalent of bail of $137 million. And because, sadly, he lived long before wiretaps or careless boasting, we will never know exactly how much he stole. But academic research estimates it could have been as much as $250 million — about $3.2 billion today.
    So there you have it, bud. The all-time corruption champion was a Democrat. And thanks to Blago, it appears not much has changed.

  11. bud

    Smoking pot is only a misdemeanor in South Carolina, with a $100.00 fine. The penalty is greater for smoking a cigarette in an restaurant than it is for smoking marijuana anywhere else.
    At least we have one thing right in South Carolna.

  12. bud

    Here’s a nice list of GOP perps in recent years. Where is Scooter Libby, David Vitter, Larry Craig and Mark Foley? From Buzzflash:
    Gov. Matt Blunt (MO)
    As Secretary of State in 2004, spent $48,000 in federal money on statewide advertising – featuring his name and picture – encouraging people to vote in the upcoming elections, in which he ran for governor. Received thousands from out-of-state donors trying to appease his father, Rep. Roy Blunt (see below). Awarded $3.6 million in state no-bid contracts to the wife and brother-in-law of the US Attorney investigating him for corruption.
    Rep. Roy Blunt (MO), House Republican Whip
    Inserted provision benefiting Philip Morris into the bill creating the Homeland Security Department just hours after becoming Whip without telling anyone. Turns out his son was a Philip Morris lobbyist, as was his girlfriend (and future wife), and the company gave his PAC $32,400 days later. He also introduced a bill unfairly benefiting UPS, who the same son then worked as a lobbyist for, and who also gave his campaign tens of thousands of dollars. Participated in money-laundering scheme with Tom Delay in 2000 to divert thousands for his son, Matt Blunt’s (see above), campaign for Secretary of State. Received contributions from Jack Abramoff and his clients, who he often supported in Congress.
    Gov. Ernie Fletcher (KY)
    Exercised blatant favoritism in state employment hiring based on partisan loyalties. Many top Republican officials were indicted in the scandal, including the Transportation Secretary and Deputy Secretary, State GOP Chairman, and Fletcher’s Personnel Advisor, Deputy Personnel Secretary, and Deputy Chief of Staff. Fletcher was issued 29 indictments, including for conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. He issued a blanket pardon to everyone involved in the case so that they would not testify against him, which may have led to the deal he got last week dropping the charges.
    Gov. Bob Taft (OH)
    Promised wealthy donors giving $25,000-50,000 to the Ohio GOP that they would get “access to key GOP officeholders,” seats in his private box for football games, and full anonymity. He called this club of participants “Team Ohio.” Taft was convicted for failing to disclose $5,800 in gifts from lobbyists, and his approval rating dropped as low as 6.5%.
    Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (OH)
    During 2004 presidential election, was co-chair of Committee to Re-elect Bush in Ohio despite being Ohio’s Chief Elections Officer (think Katherine Harris, but better looking in a dress). Responsible for massive vote suppression through uneven machine allocation and exclusion of provisional ballots, as well as his refusal to accept voter registration forms printed on anything lighter than 80-lb paper (such as normal typing or copier paper).
    Rep. Bob Ney (OH)
    Used his power to grant favors to the Jack Abramoff lobbying team in exchange for gifts, including a free trips to the Super Bowl, Northern Marianas Islands, Scotland, the use of luxury boxes at sporting events, and concerts and meals. Under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for bribery, he recently decided not to seek reelection.
    Ralph Regula (OH)
    Earmarked more than $2 million as senior member of Appropriations Committee to create the First Ladies National Historic Site in his district, to be headed by his own wife. He also accepted thousands of dollars from Abramoff and Rep. Ney.
    GOP official and fundraiser Thomas Noe (OH)
    Funneled $45,400 to Bush’s 2004 campaign using two dozen people as conduits, for which he later pled guilty to several counts for illegal campaign contributions. Central figure of “Coingate,” where he was given $50 million to invest for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation through rare coin funds, of which he lost $13 million.
    Gov. Frank Murkowski (AK)
    Appointed own daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to complete his Senate term after becoming governor. Bought a private jet with government funds after being denied by the legislature and told not to by the federal government. Allowed BP to not maintain their oil equipment, leading to the leaks and corrosion that caused the recent shutdown of an oil field. He was just creamed in GOP gubernatorial primary, coming in third with just 19% of the vote.
    Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham (CA)
    Pled guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. He resigned in disgrace last year.
    Rep. Jerry Lewis (CA)
    Used position as Appropriations Committee chairman (and formerly Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman) to steer hundreds of millions of dollars to clients of the lobbying firm of his good friend. These clients have given the firm millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands to Lewis’ campaign and political action committees (which he used to buy the support of his colleagues to attain the Appropriations chairmanship).
    Rep. John Doolittle (CA)
    Pays his wife 15% commission for fundraising for his own reelection campaigns. During the last two election cycles, she has received this commission for every dollar raised, and in total has been paid nearly $180,000 so far. Also, Jack Abramoff and his clients have given tens of thousands of dollars to Doolittle and his wife.
    Rep. Richard Pombo (CA)
    Spent $68,081 in taxpayer money to send partisan leaflets to swing states just before the 2004 election. Charged the government $5,000 for a two week family vacation. Paid 25% of campaign funds raised to wife and brother over last two election cycles, totaling $357,325. His staff has tried to remove critical information about his ties to Jack Abramoff from Wikipedia.
    Rep. Ken Calvert (CA)
    Earmarked $9.5 million in federal funding to improve land near property he had owned for less than a year, and then quickly sold the property for nearly double what he paid for it. Arrested for solicitation of prostitution in 1993 but still voted to impeach Clinton.
    Sen. Bill Frist (TN)
    Fined by FEC for failing to disclose a $1.44 million loan in his 2000 reelection campaign. (Incorrectly) diagnosed Terry Schiavo based on old, edited videotapes. Claimed not to know if his blind trust contained stock from HCA (the lucrative health care company founded by the Frist family), when he was in fact provided with regular updates on the status of his assets. Sold his HCA stock two weeks before a negative company report caused a substantial drop in share price, leading to investigations over insider trading. To avoid paying estate taxes, he transferred $2 million in inherited HCA stock to own nonprofit (of which Frist and his wife are the only trustees), whose only substantial contribution was a $877,000 to his old elite Nashville high school, which now has a building bearing his name. Started a charity, World of Hope, saying it was for AIDS treatment, but did not hire experts or professionals. “Instead, World of Hope served as a resting place for Republican political staff and Frist campaign alumni,” according to the DNC.
    State Treasurer Lorelee Byrd (NE)
    Wrote 12 government checks totaling $300,000 and stashed them in her safe before voiding them after the Legislative session ended so nobody would notice. Forced to resign.

  13. KP

    There’s lots of numbers left out on p.m.’s list — are they the Republican winners? Can we just agree that some Republicans are crooks, and some Democrats are crooks, and we hate ’em all?

  14. Ish Beverly

    The fact that the Republican Party has to function at a much higher ethical standard than the Democrats do(This is determined by the New York Times and other liberal media),many of the Republicans on bud’s list would not be on any list if they had been Democrats and did the same thing.

  15. Brad Warthen

    One of the most amazing things that political parties are capable of doing is hypnotizing people into thinking all the BAD guys are on the other side, and ignore all evidence to the contrary…
    Amazing. And not in a GOOD way, either.

  16. Lee Muller

    I don’t see any Republicans or libertarians hypnotized by anyone.
    The Unparty types seem to be hypnotized by the words, “moderate”, “pragmatic”, “deep sleep”, when uttered by the likes of Lindsay Graham or Joe Riley.

  17. Brad Warthen

    Lee thinks it’s great that smoking dope isn’t really, especially, against the law in SC.
    Does he also think it’s a good thing that our law that theoretically makes it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of .08 is so loophole-plagued that it’s largely unenforceable? That would, of course, be the pure libertarian view — and one they would share with the defense lawyers who use the loopholes to get their clients off on DUI charges.
    Another thing to be proud of our state for! Right alongside the cheapest cigarettes in the country (“Come and get ’em, kids!”)!

  18. Birch Barlow

    One of the most amazing things that political parties are capable of doing is hypnotizing people into thinking all the BAD guys are on the other side, and ignore all evidence to the contrary…
    Amazing. And not in a GOOD way, either.

    When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.
    I used to think one side was good and the other was corrupt and evil too. Now I think I hate them all.
    Damn, I went straight for thinking like a child to thinking like a bitter old man.

  19. Birch Barlow

    Does he also think it’s a good thing that our law that theoretically makes it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of .08 is so loophole-plagued that it’s largely unenforceable? That would, of course, be the pure libertarian view
    I can’t imagine anyone, regardless of political philosophy, would think drunk driving is “a good thing.” Besides, I’m pretty sure that a “pure libertarian” thinker (which you know Lee isn’t anyway) would say that one does not have the right to put another’s life in danger driving on the roads for which they both pay taxes. The problems to which you refer sound more like problems with the law (or the courts?) itself.

  20. p.m.

    “Can we just agree that some Republicans are crooks, and some Democrats are crooks, and we hate ’em all?”
    Why sure, KP. I left out the Republicans because of bud’s reference to “the tiny handful of Dems who paid their taxes late.”
    Seems to me Rangel and Killefer and Geithner and Daschle and Bill Richardson is more than a “tiny handful” in one two-week period.
    I’m also perfectly willing to admit the Rebublicans outnumber the Democrats on Olbermann’s list. But I wouldn’t consider him a neutral source, and then again, three of the top 25 were Republicans from the administrations of Lincoln and U.S. Grant, so they weren’t really Republicans in the modern sense. Of course, neither was Boss Tweed a Democrat in the modern sense.
    Those who nowadays claim to be setting the bar higher, however, should follow through on their promises.

  21. Brad Warthen

    Hey, there is a DIRECT line of causality between the Grant administration to the present day, running right through the Teapot Dome scandal… Wasn’t Dick Cheney involved in all of them?
    The sad thing is that somewhere, there’s a Democrat reading what I just wrote in jest, and saying, “Yeah! F—ing A! That’s telling ’em!”

  22. Lee Muller

    I’m sorry to bust another of Brad’s fantasy straw men, but I do favor lowering the blood alcohol level for DUI.
    I also would like it to be lower to 0.0 for judges while at work.
    The time Brad has wasted fabricating libertarian straw men could have been spent by him actually learning something about libertarianism, and the concepts of liberty and limited government on which this nation was founded.

  23. bud

    The fact that the Republican Party has to function at a much higher ethical standard than the Democrats do(This is determined by the New York Times and other liberal media.
    The standard right-wing boogey man, the liberal media. Pleez, spare me this victimization nonsense. There was a dude on The View the other day who supposedly wrong a book proving how unfair the media was to the McCain campaign and specifically Sarah Palin. What an idiot. His own video clip that he provided for the show was of Palin blaming her GOP handlers for allowing her to be interviewed by the press. Talk about your professional victim. Sarah Palin just needs to disappear into the frozen tundra where she will only endanger caribou and moose instead of the hard-working taxpayers of the U.S.

  24. Lee Muller

    86% of the network and print media are registered Democrats.
    Obama’s inauguration got 35 times the media coverage of any previous inauguration.
    The only reason Obama was elected is the media coverup of his drug abuse, his socialism, his racist comments and writings, and his crooked dealings with Tony Rezko and Blogajevich. The media refused to investigate Obama’s alleged college degrees and his unsubstantiated claim to be an American citizen.

  25. Jason F. McBrayer

    I don’t tend to agree with Lee on much, but I do agree that at least four out of the five points Brad cited from Joe’s crime bill are either outright unconstitutional, or just plain bad ideas.

  26. Lee Muller

    Well, we know Brad Warthen fell for Joe’s stupid ideas.
    We just don’t yet know if Joe Riley is that dumb, or just seeing whom he can fool.

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