State and county leaders call for background checks in the beginning of the booking process

State and county leaders call for background checks in the beginning of the booking process

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Judges decide whether or not to release someone who's accused of breaking the law often unaware the suspects before them have a criminal past. Something state leaders say, can't happen anymore.

"You know the system has this crack in it right now,"  Senator Greg Hembree said. 

Starting today that crack will be filled. Senator Greg Hembree's says he sees the same issue in not only Horry County, but state wide. People released on bond without a look at their past history. Now, as soon as they walk through the door, it's something that will be done right away. 

"So the judge will have a criminal history on every case he or she see's, every case he or she has to set bond on," Hembree explained. 

After numerous discussions with members of the law enforcement community, Hembree says it was decided the procedure had to be tweaked at J. Reuben Long Detention Center. 

"The change that we've made is that we are doing it shortly after booking instead of a day or two after they've been booked," Captain Susan Safford said. 

Every judge is supposed to have the person's history in time for a hearing but because several different agencies were bringing arresstee's to J. Reuben Long Detention center, Hembree says it was hit or miss.

Local police agencies are supposed to provide that, and some did and some didn't. Some did sometimes, and other's didn't other times.

The solution, allocating that responsibility to one agency. The Sheriff's Office.

"It was taxing on the road officer where it would require a lot of their time, where as here we were doing it anyway," Safford said. 

Senator Hembree believes this change will not only help give the jail a clear understanding of who they may be dealing with but it will also help judges make their decisions, and make sure repeat offenders are given a higher more appropriate bond, if given one at all.

"You should hold someone's past against them, if you're trying to make a judgment  whether or not to release somebody back into the community and they've demonstrated that they are a dangerous person, then you're not responsible if you're not holding their past against them," Hombre explained.

Hombre says this will be a long term solution to something that's been a long term problem.

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