Release Courtesy of J. Mark Powell
South Carolina Attorney General’s Office
Wilson: “We need immediate action on domestic violence reform.”
COLUMBIA – Sheriff Mike Crenshaw joined Attorney General Alan Wilson and numerous Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Solicitor’s, Victims’ Advocacy Groups, state law enforcement leaders, constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly today at a Domestic Violence Call to Action Rally in the State House lobby minutes before the 2015 session began.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Lt. Governor-Elect Henry McMaster, Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin, Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone, Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone, Christan Rainey, and Sara Barber, Executive Director of SCCADVASA, all spoke at the event.
Sheriff Crenshaw has made the fight against domestic violence a priority in Oconee County. He echoed the call to action and signed a letter to the General Assembly stating that despite years of effort, “South Carolina remains one of the most violent states for domestic violence. We cannot wait any longer for domestic violence reform.”
In this call for urgent action, Attorney General Wilson stated, “We must pass a comprehensive domestic violence bill so that South Carolina remains a safe place to live, work and to raise a family.”
On his first day of session as Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas joined Attorney General Wilson to share his agreement of the necessity of domestic violence reform. “We will pass a bill to give these issues the prominence they deserve and move them out of the back room.”
Sen. Larry Martin has already pre-filed a bill, S. 3, to address domestic violence reform. He said, “There is no reason the domestic violence bill should not be front and center very soon.”
Bolstered by the legislative support for domestic violence reform this year, Attorney Wilson further stated, “Our laws reflect our values, and our values are not adequately represented in the current framework.” He continued, “We don’t need to be a society that allows you get 5 years for beating your dog, but only 30 days for beating your wife.”
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen echoed the need for tougher penalties, “we need a tiered system to properly prosecute domestic violence offenders. For years we have asked for action. For years we’ve seen people murdered and children continue the cycle.”
Florence Sheriff Kenney Boone spoke to the cyclical nature of domestic violence. “There seems to be a culture in this state that domestic violence is OK. That culture must be changed.”
Solicitor Duffie Stone (Beaufort, 14th Circuit) stated, “I prosecute too many domestic violence cases. This must stop.”
Christan Rainey, from Real Men Against Domestic Violence, shared his testimony. “I’m here because in 2012, I lost everything to domestic violence. It’s going to take men to make other men stop killing women.”
Sara Barber, Executive Director of SCCADVASA, a leading victim’s advocacy group in the state urged, “Let’s make ‘smiling faces, beautiful places’ a reality for all families.”
The event included a poignant visual of red and blue silhouettes representing the men and women killed by domestic violence in South Carolina. This was the first time the Attorney General’s Office has used the silhouettes outside of the annual Silent Witness Ceremony. These silhouettes were held by law enforcement officials, members of the Attorney General’s office, and victim’s advocates.
These silhouettes surrounded the following individuals who stood with Attorney General Wilson and others at the event.
Constitutional officers present included Lt. Governor-Elect Henry McMaster; Secretary of State Mark Hammond.
All 16 Solicitors were represented by Duffie Stone, 14th Juridical Circuit, David Stumbo, 8th Judicial Circuit, and David Ross, Executive Director of the South Carolina Solicitor’s Association.
State law enforcement leaders included: Chief Mark Keel, SLED, Director Leroy Smith, SCDPS, Colonel Mike Oliver, SC Highway Patrol, and former SLED Chief Robert Stewart on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Sheriffs included Kenney Boone, Florence; Wayne Byrd, Darlington; Al Cannon, Charleston; Mike Crenshaw, Oconee; Lee Foster, Newberry; and Jim Matthews, Kershaw. Jarrod Bruder, Executive Director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association joined on behalf of other Sheriffs.
Police Chiefs were represented by Chief Greg Mullen, City of Charleston; Chief Brian Buck, Irmo; Chief Eddie Driggers, North Charleston; Chief Sonny Ledda, Laurens; Chief Ken Miller, Greenville; Chief Terrence Green, Lexington; and Ryan Alphin, Executive Director of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Victim’s Advocacy Groups from around the state were represented by Christan Rainey, Real MAD, Sara Barber, SCCADVASA, and Laura Hudson, South Carolina Crime Victim’s Council.
Legislative leaders present/confirmed to attend included: Speaker of the House Jay Lucas; Rep. Todd Atwater, Rep. Bruce Bannister, Rep. Beth Bernstein, Rep. Kenny Bingham, Rep. Mary Gail Douglas, Rep. Shannon Erickson, Rep. Raye Felder, Rep. Kirkman Finlay, Rep. Ralph Kennedy, Rep. Peter McCoy, Rep. Dennis Moss, Rep. Mike Pitts, Rep. Tommy Pope, Rep. Rick Quinn, Rep. Garry Smith, Rep. James Smith, Rep. Eddie Tallon, Rep. Anne Thayer, Rep. Richie Yow, Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin; Sen. Sean Bennett, Sen. John Courson, Sen. Mike Fair, Sen. Greg Hembree, Sen. Brad Hutto Sen. Thomas McElveen, Sen. Gerald Malloy, Sen. Katrina Shealy, Sen. Ross Turner.