Legislation that creates uniform restrictions for where sex offenders can live across the state is now law. It takes away the power of cities or counties to set their own restrictions. The General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of that bill this week.
Sex offenders must comply with state law prohibiting them from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other places where children congregate.
But, there is another change in the sex offender law. Previously in South Carolina, an unregistered sex offender would have to spend 90 days in jail before trial. Now that time in jail is 30 days. Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell of Charleston says the governor was misinformed in his veto, when he objected to a shortening of the initial holding time.
“The law had already been reduced in order to get it in the range of a Magistrates’ court. The bill that he vetoed didn’t reduce the penalty, it just uped the date at which they could take those cases to Magistrates’ court,” says McConnell.
McConnell says it’s not about the penalty, but the speeding up of the court process. He says one of the main issues covered in the seperate DNA bill was to go after these sex offenders.
“Hopefully all of this will come together and protect children. What these advocates wanted to do was to make sure the law where they violate the conditions of where they are living, that the court system could respond. Right now, nothing is getting done,” says McConnell.
The penalty reduction will be in place while SLED figures out a mapping system to determine where sex offenders can legally live under the law.