Editorial roundup: Aug. 17, 2018


Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Myrtle Beach Sun News

Aug. 10

Human trafficking is the 21st century version of slavery

Human trafficking, an international, multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise, is the 21st century version of slavery, and it has victims on the Grand Strand as surely as enslaved Africans worked Georgetown County rice plantations 200 years ago.

Recently, the Myrtle Beach Police Department, in a collaborative effort with three offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, concluded a human trafficking investigation in which a victim was forced to be a prostitute in multiple cities including Myrtle Beach. A North Carolina man was identified and arrested on charges of human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. Dequan Jonquil Blakeney was extradited and is currently incarcerated at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

Eighteenth-century slavery was much more obvious as they were brought to ports such as Charleston and sold as property in open markets. Today, the evil of human trafficking is an underground crime. Victims are men, women, boys and girls. Area cases of human trafficking typically involve sexual exploitation (prostitution), but some U.S. victims are domestic servants. In other places globally, men and boys are forced to work without compensation.

Human trafficking is difficult to understand, "hard to get your head around," said Patty Jackson of Georgetown. She is a volunteer and chairwoman of the reorganized Coastal Region Human Trafficking Task Force, part of the state effort directed by Kathryn A. Moorehead of the Office of the Attorney General.

Jackson is the retired director of the Waccamaw Regional Education Center, a business-education effort. The regional task force was relaunched July 26. A dozen subcommittees are working and a strategic plan developed. "There has been such an outpouring of energy," Jackson said. More than 50 people, including working and retired professionals from law enforcement, law and health services attended the meeting.

A follow-up will be held Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon in the main courtroom at the Ted. C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 Oak St., Myrtle Beach. "People who want to be involved" are invited to participate.

The S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force was set up in 2012 to establish a multi-disciplinary regional coalition and increase public awareness to prevent and expose human trafficking. "Not yet is everyone trained" in identifying potential human trafficking situations, Jackson said, speaking of professionals, including health care providers and law enforcement officers.

The Times and Democrat

Aug. 12

Littering laws alone won't help to solve the problem in S.C.

South Carolina's laws against littering should become more effective and enforceable with approval of amendments in 2018.

Revising the laws was needed to give officers and the courts greater flexibility in the prosecution of litter cases.

A key component of Act 214 makes it easier to achieve court-ordered community service/litter pickup by removing the requirement for supervision. The litter-gathering community service portion of the penalty may not be suspended, except the court may, upon request, accept an additional monetary penalty equal to $15 per hour in lieu of the community service. Probation may be granted only due to physical or other incapacities.

Act 214 also defines litter and illegal dumping as separate offenses, ending confusion that has resulted when enforcing violations on both public and privately owned properties.

It allows greater discretion for fines to "fit the crime" and will allow for more officer participation in enforcing litter laws.

The changes to the law "opened our law enforcement tool box a little wider for those of us who tirelessly work to protect our state's beauty and cleanliness," said Jamie Nelson, director of Environmental Enforcement for Spartanburg County, via a press release.

Nelson represented the South Carolina Litter Control Association during the legislative process seeking to strengthen laws against littering. SCLCA is comprised of litter and code-enforcement officers specifically assigned to handle litter concerns.

"We have heard the concerns of law enforcement entities about the fines and from judges in upholding the fines or assigning community service," Nelson said. "Act 214 takes away those barriers. There are no excuses anymore for not writing the tickets."

Changes in the law are a positive step, but they alone will not result in an end to the litter problem. While those deserving punishment should receive it in sufficient doses to make people aware the litter laws are real, putting a halt to littering is about pride.

For the majority of people not littering, those who do are mysteries. The questions remain: "Where have they been? Do they not know any better? Do they really care so little about their surroundings? Do they care about anything?"

Perhaps tougher enforcement of litter laws and stiffer penalties for violating them will get their attention and produce a change in behavior.