Spartanburg Sheriff Chuck Wright has made it clear in the media that he is tired of seeing the same faces over and over again in his jail.
Sheriff Wright after a particularly violent crime by a 20-time offender, recommended that young women travel in groups and get a concealed weapons permit.
State Senator Shane Martin says he watched the frustration of Wright and Solicitor Barry Barnette on TV in two different violent crimes in Spartanburg.
He learned, “The commonalities between the two (cases) is that both offenders had rap sheets a mile long. So, I went to them– I’m an engineer, I like to solve problems. Instead of playing a blame game, I went to them and said ‘What can we do to fix this from the legislative side?’ They let me know that there were several offenses that weren’t included in legislation that if they were part of it, neither one of the guys would have been on the street.”
For offenses that are considered to be the most serious, including murder, kidnapping, 1st degree burglary, and can result in a life sentence after two convictions. Martin, Wright and Barnette hope to classify additional offenses as “serious,” which could mean life imprisonment after three convictions, if a judge chooses.
Martin says the six crimes that needed to be added to the law to prevent repeat offenders from easy release are common law robbery, assault with intent to kill, discharging a weapon into a dwelling, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, and taking a firearm from a law enforcement officer.
Martin says while working on this law, he was surprised to find criminals with rap sheets three inches thick.
“A lot of these people are just playing the system and we need to get the violent ones off the street,” Martin says.
Solicitor Barry Barnette, who says he has seen this problem for 20 years, worked with Sen. Martin on the bill. He says the issue is that even those that serve what he calls “mild jail time” get out of jail and re-offend.
“We’re not trying to put everybody in jail for life,” says Barnette,”but obviously, if they can’t conform to our society after having numerous chances to do so, we don’t need them in our society to hurt more people.”