South Carolina Jails or Debtor Prisons – Bail Bond Reform

by | Feb 2, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

County jails across the country, including J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, SC, look more like debtor’s prisons every day, filled with people who are there only because they can’t afford to pay their bail.

If you have money, you pay the amount set by the judge or hire a bondsman, you go home, you get back to work, you can pay your bills, and you are better able to prepare your defense.

If you don’t have the money to pay your bail, you are locked in a cage until your trial, your family may be torn apart, you are unable to earn a living, and you are more likely to be convicted and sentenced.

There are more people in county jails awaiting trials – often because they cannot afford to pay their bail – than people who have actually been convicted of a crime, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

States and Municipalities Fight to Preserve the Status Quo

A federal judge is trying to figure out how to fix the problem in Harris County, Texas, but she is running into stiff resistance from county leaders, magistrates, and judges.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal held a special hearing after the state judicial conduct commission brought to light evidence that magistrates were being pressured to ignore the law and deny bond, raise bond, and refuse to take in account defendants’ ability to pay.

Rosenthal demanded that the county produce evidence of the illegal instructions, but county leaders, judges, and magistrates circled the wagons and insisted there was no such evidence.

All of this follows Rosenthal’s ruling last year that the county had violated the law by holding poor defendants in jail simply because they couldn’t afford to pay. She ordered the county to release many defendants, but her ruling is being appealed – to the tune of $5 million in taxpayer money spent defending the county.

Poverty Exacerbates the Problem In South Carolina

This nationwide trend hits especially hard in a state like South Carolina for one simple reason – there is a lot of poverty in the state. The people who wind up in jail are disproportionately poor, the very people who cannot afford to pay their bail.

Who does this benefit?

Certainly not the defendants. What about the citizens of the state? When defendants are held in jail, taxpayers must foot the bill for feeding them, housing them, and providing medical care, which can cost hundreds of dollars a day.

There are thousands of people in South Carolina’s jails because they can’t pay bail, often for weeks, months or even years. These costs add up.

How Can My SC Bail-Bond Attorney Help?

When you are arrested in South Carolina, you will get a bond hearing within 48 hours.

When setting bond, the court will consider several factors, including:

  • Your employment status;
  • Your family ties;
  • Your connections in the community;
  • Whether you are a flight risk; and
  • Whether you are a danger to the community. 

At your bond hearing, your attorney can present positive evidence of these factors to the court, while ensuring that you do not make statements about guilt, innocence, or the evidence in your case…

In most cases, a magistrate or municipal court judge will set your bond after you are arrested. If your bond is denied or it is set at an unreasonably high amount by the lower court judge, your SC criminal defense lawyer may also be able to file a motion to set bond or to reduce your bond in General Sessions Court.

SC Bail Bond Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Conway, and Columbia

The first job of your SC criminal defense lawyer in Myrtle Beach is often to get you out of jail if possible. Your defense attorney at Coastal Law will do everything possible to get you home, to get your charges dismissed, to get your case resolved favorably, or to win your case at trial.

Contact Coastal Law today at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation.

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Myrtle Beach

1104 North Oak Street
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Conway

1314 2nd Avenue
Conway, SC 29526

Charleston

231 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Columbia

1201 Main Street, Suite 1913
Columbia, SC 29201

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