Good news coming for South Carolina

By Don . . .This looks like it may be a good year for registrants in South Carolina.  The legislature is busy and determined to pass legislation in response to last year’s Supreme Court decision that our lifetime registration without benefit of a way off is unconstitutional. According to, “Right now, the only way for someone to be removed from the registry is their offense is overturned, reversed or vacated on appeal.”

Legislators will not be overly lenient, but some good things are coming out of this effort.  As of this writing, there are parallel bills active in both houses of the legislature. They are similar but have one notable difference with regard to the exit procedure.

One of the most significant benefits of these bills is that the SC Code will now have the tiers defined, listing which offenses result in the tier assignments.  Since AWA was implemented, South Carolina has used a set of unpublished guidelines from the attorney general’s office that have resulted in a large percentage of the registry being assigned to Tier III, which requires quarterly registration verification.  The new tier definitions will push many people down one tier from their current assignments. The discussion relevant to this issue at the subcommittee meetings has not included one word of objection, not even from the attorney general, so these definitions appear to be locked in.

Both bills propose time limits after which a registrant can be removed from the registry.  Both are too long: 15 years for Tier I and 25 or 30 years for Tiers II and III.  The time limits are still subject to discussion, and considerable testimony was presented in both committees requesting shorter times. They will not go below the AWA requirements of 10 years for Tier I and 25 years for Tiers II and III. The removal process is still open for discussion, with options being some possibility for an administrative removal by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which controls the registry, versus petitioning the court for removal. It looks like some compromise or combination will make it to the final bill.

It is also likely that children under fourteen will be exempt from being put on the registry, and that for juveniles being processed in family court, judges will be given the discretion of whether or not to place offenders on the registry, based on the circumstances of the case and evaluations of the defendant. Still up for discussion is the potential for juveniles to be removed at age 21 by petitioning the family court.

This is still a work in progress. There is a long way to go before these bills become law, and there are two more approval layers where they can still be amended by legislators without even allowing comment by the public.  The old saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!” is appropriate here.  But the momentum at this time is all in our favor, and this writer is the most optimistic he has been in nearly a decade of tracking the legislature.

Don T.

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Don is NARSOL's South Carolina advocate and representative. He is very active in South Carolina legislative affairs. He has also, for several years now, served as our master of ceremonies at our conferences. His strong, masterful voice especially equips him for this position.

8 Thoughts to “Good news coming for South Carolina”

  1. AvatarTim in WI

    CLAWING BACK THE UNFETTERED DATABASE and is impact upon liberty.
    Again the minority in Alaska v Doe pointed to the inability of the offender to seek removal from state’s database registry as dispositive of the people’s civil intent. The majority disagreed, and pointed to processes available under appeal by courts upon the conviction itself. However, most of the already convicted had either waived their appeal rights outright by standardized waiver, or by expiration of time limit latches contained in state statutes relating to appeals. These facts left most pre act offenders without recourse as to the unconstitutional retributive actions embedded in the people’s use of ex post facto language by every state’s congresses and Attorneys Generals use of a database registry as imposed without procedure or substantive processes. SCOTUS in Connecticut DPS03 upheld that state’s actions upon “..the similarly situated..” which is lawyer code for cases where State factually obtained and has in it’s possession a judgment of guilt AND a signed standard waiver of civil right in a 9-0 ruling.
    According to the link cited above, SCOTUS has now ruled South Carolina may not impose (constitutionally speaking) the life term duty to registration without opportunity to petition for removal. The problem for legislators now is any “petition administered by courts” IS “a process normally associated with criminal procedure” as cited in SMITH V DOE03 by the Rehnquist led majority as notably lacking in their probative analysis of historical punishment. So what was absent in 2003 is now necessary. This fact highlights how dysfunctional opinions of courts can be when blatantly unconstitutional government actions are permitted to stand even by those commissioned to keep it’s covenants in tact. As the article states, states are now left with cold cases to re-litagate, and there are serious problems in promulgation, including lost evaluations, records, and transcripts. If you ask me, this isn’t good news at all. In fact, it’s more evidence of the corrupted influence of big data money that has been in play since the beginning. Fact is, far more crime, and especially sex crime, has been enabled by the database than has been circumvented through the use.

    1. AvatarDr.

      Exactly what needed to be said !!!!!!

  2. AvatarTim also

    Elephant in the room is this true law (not color of law) that applies to anyone including the public officials who conspire as stated here courtesy of Cornell Law:

    18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights

    If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

    If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

    (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 696; Pub. L. 90–284, title I, § 103(a), Apr. 11, 1968, 82 Stat. 75; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, § 7018(a), (b)(1), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4396; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, § 60006(a), title XXXII, §§ 320103(a), 320201(a), title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1970, 2109, 2113, 2147; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §§ 604(b)(14)(A), 607(a), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3507, 3511.)

  3. AvatarDustin

    I’m not so optimistic. Whatever process they come up with will likely be unduly difficult, expensive, and ultimately at a judge’s discretion which seldom (if ever) swings in a registrant’s favor. Beyond that, as soon as one registrant meets all requirements and prevails , someone will complain and come up with a new system even more burdensome in order to ensure that all other petitions fail.

    While I am grateful to the efforts of NARSOL and other groups fighting the registry, I’m a bit disappointed that most appear to endorse proposed watered-down versions of it. I

    1. DonDon

      Dustin, please don’t confuse celebrating progress toward our ultimate goal as endorsing “watered-down” registries. While this bill is far less than I would have wanted, it is the first significant improvement in the registry laws since they were first enacted in 1994. While other states are continuing to fight against new, more restrictive bills, the ones we have in the works in SC will ease the burden for many registrants and give some hope for actually getting off the registry, which we have never had before. Partial progress is still progress and should be accepted as that and applauded!

  4. AvatarJonathon Merritt

    I left SC for Georgia because of their restrictions and quarterly registration. The registry in Ga had been
    Defanged by the lawsuits by the Southern Poverty Law Center and I had hoped for similar litigation in SC. I am hopeful that these new changes will not be designed only appear to the Supreme Court like the law makers had done something for all of us.

  5. AvatarEdward Schrader

    I am a follower of the decisions made by the ( American Law Institute) concerning the length of time for registration. They do not agree on the long term registry penalties that are placed upon registrants. In there most recent article concerning there approval of the 5th edition concerning sexual assault, they would like to see an across the board registration time of 15 years, and after 10 years having a clean record, the last 5 years would be removed and the registry would be terminated. This would be great for all if they do decide to keep the registry intact. My honest opinion is to see the registry completely abolished due to the fact that it is unconstitutional in so many ways that have been proven in many cases. hopefully one day Legislators will remove the blinders and open there eyes to see the whole picture to why this is unconstitutional. No other crime is punished with so many restraints, regulations that a sexual offender has to comply with. I do agree that a jail sentence should happen for all crimes, but after the sentence has been completed it is done, the pentalty has been paid. Under a sexual offense i classify it as punishment after punishment almost like a double jeopardy. Thank you for allowing me to comment, and thank you for your hard work concerning these issues.

  6. AvatarChristopher Brown

    The USA constitution was written for everyone,but primarily for those citizens who may be singled out and marginalized,belittled by society!! And therefore have overbearing “special laws” placed against them,then sex offender registry is a perfect opportunity for them us constitution to protect them but stupid legislature backwoods idiots don’t understand example
    Is a typical county sheriffs office in rural n.c
    Plus they don’t realize half the people in the registry do not
    Have crimes against children

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