Charleston has an accountability problem -- or lack thereof -- which continues today with a get-out-of-jail-free card given to a stalking suspect. Robert M. Alexander, 55 of Folly Beach, was jailed Oct. 14 for a stalking charge. And in a quick flash of repudiation, Amanda S. Haselden, a local attorney and magistrate, released Mr. Alexander on personal recognizance bond despite a pending assault charge earned six weeks earlier.
Stalking has grave consequences for the victim and other persons involved. It strikes currents of fear in victims, and displays a complete violation of accepted codes of conduct. Stalking is commonly accompanied by a domestic offense with a romantic partner, which may explain the nature of Mr. Alexander's earlier arrest. And within a two months, he would again see the inside of a cell for new charges and county holds.
On Dec. 2, Mr. Alexander was behind bars a fourth time after receiving a handful of charges relating to drug possession and interfering with a police investigation. And when things couldn't get any worse, Judge Haselden dished out another personal recognizance bond for the latter offense. Mr. Alexander was allowed back onto the street despite overtures that he isn't a candidate for freedom. But, this is an example of the city's court system 'kicking the can' to avoid taking sensible action.
The rest of his record is a blur, containing the usual remnants of evictions and small-dollar infractions. But with the high number of charges currently lodged against him, it would be in Mr. Alexander's best interest to turn from his behavior even if the court system sets him up to fail. Community safety would improve dramatically if convicts were less able to exploit a weak criminal justice system. All hope is not lost if South Carolina voters finally have a say in the election of public officials, most notably judges.
Here Lies Bail Reform in a Bottomless Pit
Herein lies our city -- the hope that we have for it, the vision we dream for her -- and we are still suffering from the residual effects of work done by the Charleston Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. But it doesn't have to be this way -- we can hold out hope for a brighter tomorrow. And before the ink dries on future legislation, let us band together as a community and consider the issues that matter most.
Our fundamental consciousness is at stake as much as the quality of life for posterity. We understand that we are the advent of future success that depends on what we do right now. We have a choice -- buried in the subterfuge of politics -- to stand against the wiles of failed social programs and ignite the fires of justice. Will you make the right call?