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Gainey hit with additional charges, higher bond, after Monday's pursuit, Tuesday’s public outrag

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – A whole lot can change in 24 hours. After leading state troopers on a high-speed chase around noon Monday through the heart of Lexington, James B. Gainey, Jr. had been booked into the Lexington County Detention Center on charges of reckless driving, driving under suspension, and failure to obey a traffic control device. His bond was set at $1,320 as of 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.

Later Tuesday, The Lexington Ledger ran a story about James Gainey’s 2016 sentencing for a motorcycle collision he caused in 2015 that took the life of Caitlin Clark, 19, of Gilbert. The outrage that followed after people learned that Gainey was out of prison and behind the wheel of anything Monday was swift, overwhelming, and quick to condemn the SC Criminal Justice System. People saw that system as coddling people like Gainey. Many said that system had completely broken down and forgotten about the victims, their families, and society as judges considered bond, bond amounts, and sentences for individuals many considered dangerous and a menace to society.

Since 11:30 a.m. Tuesday when last checked and The Ledger’s story ran, Gainey has had new charges added regarding his Monday arrest for a Dukes of Hazard style run from the law through the normally peaceful Town of Lexington. That wild chase ended only after he spun out, fled on foot, and his wife and trained law enforcement negotiators talked Gainey down from a concrete structure where he had stopped running and threatened to jump off from a height to do himself harm. Yes, law enforcement officers are sworn to serve and protect everyone, even the perpetrators who would seem to be guilty, so they couldn’t just let the young man, husband, and father jump and hurt or kill himself.

A check at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday showed that Gainey is still being housed in the Lexington County Detention Center but now with a much longer list of charges pending and a bond that totals $51,592.50. His charges now include child endangerment, receiving stolen goods with a value that’s less than $2,000, driving under suspension (not for DUI), reckless driving, hit & run, and failure to stop for a blue light.

On Tuesday, after Gainey’s past record came to light, several were quick to point out that he had been quite a busy guy over the past few years in Richland County as well. In fact, he was well known to law enforcement and the courts on that side of the river too.

In Richland County, he seems to have also been treated with kid gloves by the judicial system. He has been charged with a number of serious crimes over the last several years, often received a Personal Recognizance Bond (PR) on many of those and had a number of failures to appear in court charges pending now as a result of these as well. These can all be found by looking up the SC Summary Court Records and then navigating to Richland County and searching for James B. Gainey, Jr.

A few of the highlights from those records accuse young Gainey of the following crimes: Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime, Petit Larceny, Burglary, DUS, Failure to Stop for Blue Lights, Reckless Driving, Use of a Plate Other Than the Vehicle it Was Issued for, and Possession / Concealing / Selling or Disposing of a Stolen Vehicle with a Value Greater than $2,000 but not more than $10,000. There are no records that indicate Mr. Gainey broke out of jail to be in Lexington Monday so one could assume that he was free with the knowledge of the courts.

Many of you will quickly ask where the blame for this revolving door of criminal justice lies. Keep in mind that law enforcement and the courts are two separate entities.

Law enforcement agencies arrest suspects, transport them to, and book said suspects into a detention facility of some sort. They also take statements they write in reports, gather evidence, and do other things that are at some point presented to the courts that will help others make a decision as to who is charged with what, who stays in jail, and for how long.

The solicitor and his staff can help law enforcement decide what charges the evidence they have gathered supports. They are the ones that have to present all that gathered material to a judge and maybe a jury at some point and convince one, the other, or both that the suspect is in fact guilty of what he or she is being charged with and should be punished.

Judges have a lot of different jobs in the process. They decide bond based on the likelihood the suspect will return to court to face his/her charges at the appointed time. They also must consider whether the offender standing before them is likely to hurt themselves or someone else if they are allowed to be free on bond until they return to court. Please remember, they do have bosses like we all do and follow guidelines to a certain extent that don’t allow their personal feelings or the community’s anger to cloud their judgement. At a bond hearing, a suspect has not been convicted of anything so judges can’t punish suspects by making their bond high. They could be found not guilty or the charges could be dropped at a later date.

Above this, there are all types of judges including ones that administer the court system. They are the ones who decide how long the normal system will remain shut down due to the COVID pandemic and lots of other things. Even they have bosses when the legislatures make laws they have to follow.

If you are angry with someone and want the revolving door of our Criminal Justice System to stop spinning, you first need to understand that’s not going to happen overnight. If you aren’t committed to really working to make a change, say your piece and move on.

If you are committed and ready for a lot of frustration and perhaps a few triumphs where do you start? The experts at making a difference are usually ones that have done so before.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have done a lot of good over the years although it has certainly taken a lot of work. Perhaps someone with them would at least help you narrow down the problem and put you in about the right place to make a difference for South Carolina. If they can’t, they’ll probably know someone who can. You can volunteer your time, donate money, or get in contact with someone who may can lead you to the root of the problem by checking out MADD’s website at www.madd.org/south-carolina/

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