The SC House has just sustained Governor Mark Sanford’s veto of legislation that would have allowed individuals out of prison on parole or probation to be searched without a warrant. The vote was 58 to 53, 16 votes short of the supermajority required. The vote may be reconsidered, even this week, and House Speaker Bobby Harrell has said he wants the veto overridden.
The veto was overridden in the Senate. And the House had passed the same bill in February by a Vote of 81-26. But this time around House members heard the pleas of those who argued that the law would violate civil liberties.
The measure allows searches of probationers or parolees–a search of their person or the vehicle they are in, but not their residence.
Leading that group was Florence Republican Kristopher Crawford. He said the bill sets a bad precedent. Crawford argued that when civil liberties are taken away from some people, they can be taken away from anyone.
(Crawford on searches MP3 1:17)
Crawford on searches
Crawford argued with Dorchester County Republican Annette Young, who pointed out that inmates must agree to the searches according to the terms of their release, or they won’t be given parole or probation.
(Young-Crawford on searches MP3 2:28)
Young-Crawford on searches
Retired police officer Michael Pitts of Laurens County gave a powerful argument =against= the legislation. He said when he was a police officer, he had to work at it to have the right to search someone, and he says warrantless searches would chip away at the constitution. He says if the law passes and you find yourself in a car with young man on probation for throwing eggs at a school, you may be searched as well.
(Pitts on searches MP3 2:36)
Pitts on searches
Similarly, Laurens County Republican Jeff Duncan said the bill is sliding down the slippery slope away from the bill of rights. He used an example, saying that if he were a parolee, and was in the car with some of his House colleagues, and made an illegal turn, it would ruin everyone’s day.