SC attorney general announces initiative to reduce violent crime case backlog

Posted 2/8/24

The state's Attorney General office hopes to combat violent crime case backlog with a new initiative.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get 50% of all subscriptions for a limited time. Subscribe today.

You can cancel anytime.

Please log in to continue

Log in

SC attorney general announces initiative to reduce violent crime case backlog


The state's Attorney General office hopes to combat violent crime case backlog with a new initiative.

On Jan. 31, Attorney General Alan Wilson and Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter), speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, introduced a statewide Violent Crimes Reduction Unit. If passed, the initiative, which was presented earlier that day to the Ways and Means Committee on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, will have to pass through the House and Senate to become.

According to Smith, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, they recognized the tremendous number of cases on the state's backlog, which he said jeopardizes the safety of citizens.

Per a release, the state has at least 11,600 general sessions indictments still pending that are at least three years old. Some circuits have lists of pending cases that are hundreds-long, while others have more than 1,000. These cases included “significant numbers of murder and sex crimes cases,” the release states.

Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington), who was on hand for the announcement, echoed this sentiment to the Chronicle, claiming that if these people are guilty and out in the community it poses a threat to the community and denies justice to the victims.

“I'm concerned about violent crime in our community and I want to do everything possible to protect the people in our community,” he said.

When it comes to the initiative itself, Wilson said the reduction unit would look at hiring four prosecutors, two investigators, two paralegals, one IT technician and one victims advocate, with all being full-time employees. He said the unit would be split into two teams, each with two prosecutors, an investigator and a paralegal, with the two teams sharing the IT technician and victims advocate.

The attorney general told those in attendance they are requesting around $1.575 million to pay for the positions, with $100,000 a year going to travel, technology and potential rentals to be included in the budget.

The unit would be deployed to judicial circuits that need support to help tackle their case backlog.

While he was unable to give a definitive timeframe, Wilson told those in attendance that he hopes to see significant and dramatic improvements with the backlog in two to three years if the unit is approved, claiming that it will take several months to hire experienced prosecutors and deploy them out. 

“It's gonna take time and patience,” he said. “But now that we have it, we're gonna focus on it like a laser and we're gonna move these cases we're going to clear this backlog up.”

Caskey told the Chronicle that he hopes to see results as soon as possible, adding that solicitors need help with their backlogs and the only way to help is to get people into those offices.

When asked about the backlog prior to COVID, Wilson attributed the build-up to the lack of bandwidth, claiming that recruiting in some circuits is difficult. He said that areas like Charleston, Richland, Lexington, Greenville, Spartanburg and Rock Hill are urban areas and are much easier to recruit for compared to the more rural areas within the state.

Wilson added that while the backlog existed prior to COVID, there wasn’t as much attention placed on the criminal justice system as there has been the past three years. 

Outside of tackling this backlog, Wilson said that there are many counties that have jails at capacity and have no place to put violent criminals that may be coming in.

“This is not just to support the solicitors but to support local communities to keep them safer,” he said. “Help them not be overstressed because they don't have the ability to add beds to their jails. … We're going to try to move those people out of those beds and get them where they belong in the Department of Corrections and bring justice more efficiently and more expeditiously.”

According to Wilson, he considers this unit the third phase of fighting violent crime within the state. The first phase included upgrading the managing software in solicitor's offices to ensure that they are able to effectively manage cases around the state. The second phase included getting $12 million for public defenders and $16 million for solicitors across the state to help in recruitment and retainment.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here