Lexington, SC - Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard has publicly come out in opposition of several bills that are working their way through the state legislative process. In a statement released Wednesday, Hubbard said, "Violent criminals and child rapists will be eligible for early release back into our community if legislation currently pending at our State House becomes law. On behalf of the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office, I stand with victims of violent crime in opposing bills S.155, S.161, H.3322, and H.3580. These bills would retroactively release thousands of our State’s most dangerous criminals back onto our streets. By releasing the worst of the worst criminals, this legislation creates a real and substantial risk to our public safety."
Hubbard said these bills would turn our over-worked criminal courts into parole boards for violent offenders. He said that any criminal serving a substantial sentence for a heinous crime, such as rape or homicide by child abuse, can petition the circuit court for early release after serving a mere 15 years. If the offender’s petition is denied, he can re-petition the court every two years until he is released. Hubbard said that this would be a complete violation of the public’s trust in the justice system.
Hubbard used as an example a brave 12 year old little girl who recently testified that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted throughout her childhood by a man in Saluda County. Hubbard said, "He was lawfully convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison with no chance of parole. This legislation would change everything. This little girl will have to return to court when she is 27 years old and relive these horrible events in order to ensure this sex offender remains in prison. She will then continue to be re-victimized at similar hearings every two years for the duration of the 40 year sentence. Yet, the court could still release the offender over her objections. How can we expect this young lady, or any victim, to have faith in a justice system that does this?"
Hubbard said he thinks that supporters of this legislation claim they are simply trying to address the problem of prison overcrowding and that these bills focus on non-violent offenders. Unfortunately, this is not accurate according to Hubbard. The majority of the crimes addressed in these bills are violent crimes. Hubbard concluded by saying, "Although I am certainly open to having a conversation with legislators on how to address non-violent offenders, this is not the answer. This legislation sacrifices our trust and our safety."