Residents of South Carolina can increasingly monitor their neighborhoods, connect with neighbors and report suspicious activity at the touch of a button. Community-oriented social media applications, like Nextdoor, Citizen and Amazon's Ring, have attracted many users. Critics assert that the applications encourage people to engage in racist stereotyping and create unnecessary fears about public safety.
Some people in South Carolina may have heard about an executive with MillerCoors who was facing charges of fraud. The man had participated with others in a scheme from 2003 to 2013 that cost the company over $8.6 million. On May 16, he was sentenced to 46 months in prison. An assistant U.S. attorney on the case asked for a sentence of 64 months. She acknowledged that he was the one who had tipped off prosecutors to the scheme but also said that he had committed "the ultimate betrayal." The man, a former vice-president, had worked his way up through the company.
South Carolina residents have likely read media stories about prisoners who were exonerated after spending years behind bars when witnesses recanted or DNA evidence proved their innocence. The National Registry of Exonerations keeps track of these cases, and its latest annual report reveals that the 151 prisoners exonerated in 2018 were incarcerated for a total of 1,639 years. This works out to about 11 years behind bars per exonerated prisoner and is the highest number observed since the organization began tracking this data in 1989.
Racial discrimination can affect many aspects of the criminal prosecution, trial and sentencing of people in South Carolina. One often-overlooked aspect of racial disparities in the criminal justice system involves the mistaken recording and understanding of Black English in the courtroom. One study examined court stenographers in Philadelphia, finding that they made errors in two-fifths of the sentences spoken in Black English grammar and accurately paraphrased only a third of the content.
Judges in South Carolina and around the country take the protections guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments seriously. That's why evidence gathered during warrantless searches or coercive interrogations is unlikely to withstand scrutiny unless the police officers involved have compelling arguments. However, the law has sometimes been slow to respond to challenges raised by new technology. Most cellphones contain extremely sensitive information about their owners, but the degree to which the U.S. Constitution protects this data remains uncertain.
Scholarly work has suggested that people in South Carolina and elsewhere can make errors when picking a person out of a lineup. In some cases, an individual will pick up on a cue given by a police officer. Research also suggests that a person has a hard time recognizing someone of a different race. Over time, an individual may be manipulated into feeling more confident in his or her choice, and he or she may actually offer testimony at trial.
On June 22, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement agencies must generally obtain a warrant before accessing someone's cell site location information, or CSLI. Legal experts say the 5-4 decision modernizes the Fourth Amendment and provides important new privacy protections for all U.S. citizens, including the residents of South Carolina.
According to an estimate from the National Safety Council, there were more than 40,000 traffic deaths in 2017. Furthermore, 36 percent of all trips resulted in distracted driving on South Carolina roads and others throughout the country according to Cambridge Mobile Telematics. As a general rule, research shows that older drivers tend to focus on the road better than younger drivers. Those who drive for a living also tend to be safer than those who don't.
A 38-year-old South Carolina woman is facing multiple counts of felony DUI following a car crash that killed two people on May 26. The accident occurred in Laurens County.
Some people in South Carolina allow their friends or family members to drive rental cars for which they are not the authorized drivers. When unauthorized drivers are stopped by the police, the police might search the cars. The Supreme Court issued a ruling on May 14 that law enforcement officers cannot search rental vehicles that are being driven by unauthorized drivers without having a warrant or probable cause to believe that the cars contain evidence of crimes.