Gov. Nikki Haley’s recent discovery that police officers are in charge of prosecuting domestic violence cases is leading to some big changes in our state. She is now proposing that we spend $19 million to hire 144 prosecutors to take over this large responsibility.
According to The Post and Courier, “South Carolina is one of three states in the country where police officers — not lawyers — prosecute domestic violence crimes in the courtroom.”
Haley is not alone in this proposition. She was joined during this statement by 9th Circuit Solicitor, Scarlett Wilson.
Wilson was quoted as saying, “I was mortified when I learned that law enforcement (officers) were the ones that were prosecuting these cases…Law enforcement does a great job, but they have enough on their plate…They shouldn’t have to go and try to play lawyer. They are not a substitute for someone who is a trained prosecutor.”
Our state has a bleak history when it comes to domestic violence. We have long topped the lists of deadliest states for women at the hands of men. Gov. Haley hopes this change will turn things around in South Carolina.
The Post and Courier quoted Haley as saying “You have to fix it from the ground up, there has to be a culture change…If we really are going to have the backs of the people who have to deal with domestic violence then we need to have the culture in the way we communicate it. These people are not victims. They are survivors.”
The shift from officers to prosecutors is not the only change Haley is proposing. She is also rolling out an HR policy which will affect sever state agencies. This policy will help companies understand how they can assist employees or coworkers who may be experiencing domestic violence.
Haley stated “We’re going to make sure that we have the resources available and we’re going to have a safety plan. If we find out that there’s someone that is a survivor that is in trouble, we’re going to make sure that we’re walking them to their car. We’re going to make sure that if we have to change their work times, we’re going to change them. We’re going to do what it takes to empower the survivor to get control of their situation.”