I fully understand that the criminal justice system requires adequate funding for the prosecution, the defense and the judiciary. That’s why I have supported funding for the public defender’s office from Columbia and Richland and Kershaw counties and the state. I have sought an increase in the public defender’s personal expense allowance, and I have written letters of support for federal grants for which it has applied.
My office is responsible for the prosecution of every criminal case in Richland and Kershaw counties. We also administer the adult and juvenile drug courts, mental health court, veterans, homeless and DUI courts, pre-trial intervention, alcohol and traffic education programs and worthless check and expungement programs, for which the public defender’s office is not responsible.
Fielding Pringle said in a recent letter that the public defender’s office has a caseload equal to ours (“Level playing field? Not in Richland County,” May 28). I find this claim both outrageous and egregious. It suggests that the private criminal defense bar does not exist in Richland County. In fact, the S.C. Commission on Prosecution Coordination recently concluded that only 49 percent of all criminal case depositions in Richland County are handled by the public defender’s office; it was 52 percent in Kershaw County. These are the numbers that the Legislature uses to distribute state funding to public defenders’ offices statewide.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor