Limiting Legal Penalties for Public Officials
It would appear that S.333 seeks to limit prison sentences for public officials who commit felonies or misdemeanors. For felonies and misdemeanors alike, the amendment states that any official who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to either while in office shall be imprisoned for: 1) a year (felony) or thirty days (misdemeanor), or 2) a percentage of the minimum term required by law for conviction of the same crime, whichever is higher. This amendment calls into question why it must be that public officials are not subject to the same sentencing expectations that apply to the private sector. There is another dimension here that is worth consideration. The “percentage” to be served is determined by a presiding judge. That’s fine, although this is an opportunity to raise awareness to the fact that many officials within the judicial branch are appointed by lawmakers. South Carolina government has not done well in adhering to the separation of powers model. Citizens of this state simply need to be aware of the questionable relationships that exist within our government.