Just when bail reform couldn’t get any worse, any less dignified, the unthinkable happened. Caleb Howard, a twenty-year-old Charleston resident, was taken to jail after police were called to a Firestone auto repair shop near the Northwoods Mall on suspicion of breaking into a motor vehicle.
Not soon after, Mr. Howard was given a free pass out the door by Magistrate John Kenney, a judge with a battered reputation for dishing out light penalties for alleged crimes. When asked to comment upon his decision, Mr. Kenney submitted that he was unable to elaborate further.
When all seemed to wither away, Caleb Howard was again arrested only two days later for breaking into a home in a Rivers Avenue neighborhood — with two children to bear witness — in a cruel twist of irony. There wasn’t a free pass out of dodge this time around, though. Judge Martelle Morrison of the Adams Run Area Magistrate Court set Mr. Howard’s bond at $25,000.
All of this has placed undue stress upon the shoulders of North Charleston Deputy Police Chief Greg Gomes, who spoke candidly with Live5News’s Harve Jacobs “…these sorts of cases are frustrating to law enforcement, but more importantly it’s frustrating to our victims.” With North Charleston routinely one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, it’s not shocking to see Mr. Gomes to point to the lack of accountability within our jail system.
Bail Reform Comes With A Price
This paints an astonishing portrait seeming to cast a shadow on the CJCC’s bail reform efforts throughout the Lowcountry. Heralded by local news media, the group’s work in Charleston often forgets to mention that men like Caleb Howard have a direct affect on their touted success (specifically, through a reduction in jail population).
Mr. Howard has a quartet of arrests covering a period of two years, beginning with a burglary crime that resulted in conviction and landed him in prison for nearly one year. His violation of a probation agreement set the wheels in motion for hard time behind bars, until he was released to begin terrorizing the North Charleston community by way of theft and home invasion.
Even if you support some of what bail reform claims to offer, the case of Caleb Brown reminds us of the unreliability of this system. But one thing should be crystal clear — there is zero incentive to stay away from jail if bail is systematically removed. Prevent this by signing this pledge that tells elected officials you don’t approve.