On January 21, Charleston County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Degrow was shot six times, once in the eye. His shooter, accused 21-year-old Brandon Simmons, is no stranger to the justice system. Simmons was released from state prison in November after being arrested on burglary charges. He was on parole.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon says the justice system is overwhelmed and Simmons is not the only criminal that gets back on the streets.
“There are so many that are charged with committing crimes that the system cannot process it. We may have in the county in a year’s time 8,000 indictments. If six people commit a crime, that’s gonna be six indictments. If one person commits six crimes, that’s gonna be six indictments. We may have 8,000 indictments in a year, which if each person exercise their right to a trial, you may have the potential to 2,000 trials in a year,” says Cannon.
In Simmons’ case, he is now behind bars for shooting Degrow in the head and arm, charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. He is being held without bail. However, if Simmons never had his “break” and never returned to the streets, there may not have been a shot officer.
Cannon explains the system: “What we are seeing is we are setting aside more and more serious offenses because of the overwhelming numbers we have. So, we are getting to a point where we are saying we are looking for ways to avoid putting them in prison, and that’s one of those ways. Actually, a youthful offender, don’t hold me to this, but I think it extends to something other than what you and I would define as being a youth,” says Cannon.
Cannon says the system is kind of like an assembly line, where criminals move in and move out. He gives his opinion of what’s really going on:
“My personal belief, quite frankly, is that we do not do a really good job of identifying those people who have established a pattern of behavior that shows they are going to be pray over society, and they have therefore, because of that pattern of behavior, forfeited their right to be in that society,” says Cannon.
Officer Degrow is still recovering, although the bullet is still lodged in his skull. No word on his return to the force due to his eye wound. Cannon says he cannot make any predictions because he has seen officers return many times before.