A Solicitor’s Office known for principled prosecution… integrity above reproach… innovation in communication, accountability, and victim’s rights… a common sense approach to achieving our central goal: Treating people fairly while making Charleston and Berkeley counties safer places to live and work. I have devoted my career to protecting the people of South Carolina by aggressively and fairly prosecuting those who violate the law. My mission is to provide members of our community with a safe place to live by protecting the innocent, holding the guilty accountable, and preserving the dignity of victims and their families. We seek justice through vigorous enforcement of the law in a reasonable, honest and efficient manner.
My vision for the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, I focused on specifics that, based on many years experience, have and will make a difference.
In pursuit of this mission, my Team and I have resolved to:
GUARANTEE that the rights of victims are upheld while treating all involved with dignity, respect and compassion
CONSCIENTIOUSLY seek to improve the criminal justice system
MAINTAIN public confidence by creating a day to day operation that is efficient and effective and which includes collaborating with law enforcement and openly communicating with the community at large
MARSHAL talents and resources for successfully prosecuting criminal cases in a reasonable, responsible manner
ASSEMBLE a prosecution team of character, courage, integrity and skill, who are committed to professional excellence, fairness to the accused, candor with and respect for the court and opposing counsel
PROMOTE an environment that is positive and courteous among employees and members of the public complete with compassion, trust and mutual respect
ENCOURAGE all employees to hone their skills and realize their full potential throughout their time in our office, and
ENSURE that all employees are fairly treated in matters affecting their jobs.
Solicitor Wilson has been a leader for reasonable reform of our laws. When she was one of the prosecutors asked to weigh in on sentence reform, she noted, "We all agreed that drug weights need to be changed; we all agreed that drug sentences needed to be reduced and most mandatory minimums needed to be eliminated. We had no problem with retroactive sentence reductions for non-victim crimes. We agreed that straight drug crimes should not automatically be classified as violent offenses.
Furthermore, we know that prisoners should be prepared for release starting DAY ONE. It is incredibly short-sighted not to fund rehabilitation and education for inmates: they are coming back to our communities. Don’t we want them coming back BETTER than when they went in?"
Reform for Law Enforcement
Equip every officer with a body worn camera and add a criminal penalty for the willful destruction or editing of body-worn camera footage.
Require all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths to be investigated by an independent agency.
Create a statewide database for police misconduct information and authorize prosecutors’ access. Authorize prosecutors to obtain this information so that this information can be turned over to defense in a timely manner. A database would help ensure that cases are properly scrutinized and that bad officers cannot merely move to another part of the state to avoid accountability.
Define and Penalize Excessive Force. At least forty-one states have laws governing officers' use of force-- specific statutes that govern under what conditions law enforcement can use deadly force. South Carolina does not have an excessive force statute leaving law enforcement without statutory guidance and prosecutors with the challenge of fitting concerning deadly encounters into either murder or manslaughter charges. Our legislature should pass an excessive force statute for South Carolina utilizing the standard taught at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and established by the United States Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner. This was also a recommendation by the Prosecution Commission in 2107.
Reform of Sentencing Schemes
Provide for truth in sentencing. Sentencing policies should be truthful: the time actually served in prison or jail should bear a close and consistent relationship to the sentence imposed by the judge. Unfortunately, “sentencing reform” has come to be synonymous with “sentence reduction.” The truth is, some criminals struggle with antisocial behavior, while others embrace it. The latter are repeatedly arrested for a myriad of offenses, some violent, some nonviolent. Society’s protection requires that the most incorrigible offenders – about 20 percent of the criminal population – face penalties that are more stringent, not less so. Truth in sentencing exists for some offenses and there is evidence that it works: S.C. Department of Corrections’ statistics show that prisoners serving 85 percent of their given punishment are the least likely of all prisoners to reoffend. The implication is clear: career criminals, whether convicted of a violent or nonviolent offense, should serve 85 percent of their sentence before they can be released. The combination of adequately funded diversion programs and truth in sentencing will mean fewer people go to prison, but that those who do serve a sentence that reflects the judge’s intention and makes them less likely to reoffend.
Sentencing policies should be consistent: Offenders convicted of similar offenses, who have similar prior records, should generally receive similar sentences.
Sentencing policies should be rational: The sentence should be proportional to the severity of the crime as measured by the harm to the victim and to the offender’s prior record.
Sentencing policies should set resource priorities: The use of prisons and jails should be prioritized first for violent and repeat offenders and community-based programs should be first utilized for nonviolent offenders with little or no prior record.
Sentencing policies should be balanced with correctional resources: Sentencing policies should be supported by adequate prison, jail and community based resources.
Create prison reentry board. Their job, like a high school guidance counselor would be to work with the prisoner at an early stage in their incarceration to develop a plan for re-entry. Education, work, drug or alcohol treatment would be key. Prisons should prepare prisoners for re-entry starting on day one of their prison sentence.Prisoners should not be warehoused and forgotten until their time has expired. Counselors would meet with prisoners very early on-- well before they are eligible for release. They would assess prisoners’ needs, whether they be education, vocational rehabilitation, or alcohol and drug treatment. Prison should prepare an inmate for a productive life after incarceration, not a return trip to the penitentiary and a life of recidivism.
Reform Sentences for Certain Low Level, Non-Violent Offenders by removing most mandatory minimums and establishing “safety valves” for others.
Remove Obstacles to the Expungement Process and to Diversion Programs like Pretrial Intervention and Drug and Mental Health Courts; Increase & Fund Options for Low Level and First Time Offenders.
Reform to Keep Us Safe
Create a Hate Crime sentence enhancement. Hate crimes are message crimes: Gay men beaten outside of a gay bars are rarely robbed. Vandals do not spray-paint messages like “Jane Loves Bobby” on the side of synagogues; more often, they paint a threat and a swastika. Racists do not burn random shapes on the front lawns of African American families. Hate crimes are MESSAGE CRIMES: when these crimes occur, we must have a message of our own. While we cannot outlaw hate, we can pass laws that shape attitudes. And attitudes influence behavior. We must be given the tools to send our message of unity and solidarity. KNOW THAT YOUR SOLICITOR IS READY , WILLING & ABLE to SEND THAT MESSAGE.
Establish Rebuttable Presumption of Detention/Bond Revocation for Dangerous Repeat Offenders and Expand the Use of “PR” Bonds for Low Level and First Time Non-Violent Offenders
Provide a Sentencing Enhancement for Dangerous Repeat Offenders Convicted of Committing a Crime While on Bond
Create Sentencing Enhancements for Repeat Gun-Law Offenders: Solicitor Wilson believes in the second amendment and supports responsible gun owners. Those that thumb their noses at our gun laws, however, threaten all of our second amendment rights. We should treat gun-law abusers much like other repeat offenders: give them stiffer sentences each time they violate our current gun laws. Even shoplifters and those who repeatedly drive under the influence or under suspension face enhanced penalties after multiple offenses.
Repeal and Replace Citizens’ Arrest Statute (Support H. 5487) Law enforcement is a profession that requires extensive training. Training and standards, however, do not mean much if anyone can hunt down someone they suspect of a crime and shoot them regardless of the danger they pose. Ours is an archaic statute.
Reform for Prosecution
Good prosecutors want to be better. Real criminal justice reform requires helping local prosecutors make better decisions. A data-informed process that empowers prosecutors to make better decisions is critical. Since 2014, Solicitor Wilson has been collaborating with experts from across the country to collect data and improve data collection at the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. This was done in order to spot inefficiencies in the system and to identify and understand racial disparities in her office.
Solicitor Wilson committed herself to correcting the root causes of any disparities in her jurisdiction, and to ensuring that her prosecutors make fair and consistent decisions. Once she set processes to collect the relevant data, she formed partnerships with renowned experts. The office and is poised to lead the country in detecting and correcting bias. This sort of accountability will not only help the public, but the criminal justice system as a whole.
Unconscious bias runs deep in every corner of this country – and we believe these studies will help identify and correct biases spawned by institutional or structural racism. Studies have shown bias in basically every other government institution: education, banking, health care and housing. Solicitor Wilson has stated, “The real shame would not be discovering unconscious biases in our criminal justice system. The shame would be in not looking for it. The real shame would be in not doing all we can to eliminate bias — implicit or otherwise.”