Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a whirlwind of anxiety as we try and gain an upper hand on the worldwide pandemic. It's no wonder, then, why bail reform and other political topics have taken a backseat as everyday people and health officials scramble in a race against time. This brings us to another potentially fatal topic in our latest Jail Watch blog: Keith Edmond Schwartz.
His name may not sound scary at first, but his criminal record will make you cringe as you begin understanding what it means. Mr. Schwartz is a Tier III sex offender in South Carolina who apparently didn't meet the quota for bail. Winding the clock back to Feb. 16, criminal charges were filed against Mr. Schwartz for failing to meet his quarterly registration mark, where he is required to do so for life.
Look, we get it -- there are heavier things on your plate, but make no mistake -- the fact that he was released free of charge should be enough for you to tremble in your boots. And to make a bad situation worse, his registry classification -- Tier III -- is by far the worst rating according to SLED. It is defined as meeting any of the following: the non-parental kidnapping of a minor; a sex act achieved by force or threat; or the actor has reason to believe the victim is mentally defective or physically helpless.
Now let's take a backseat for a moment. What if this guy is simply a one-hit-wonder -- an anomaly? Lunging forward and reviewing Mr. Schwartz's case file reveals a startling collection of sex offenses against a child at or below the age of eleven. Eleven. Think for a moment if that was your child at the behest of the devil himself -- wouldn't you want a judge taking action to keep him off the streets if he failed to meet a standard he brought upon himself? Most sane and logical people would say yes. But to whoever released him against the will of the people, no.
This is so clearly an outrage; there could be no cloud in the sky to make one think otherwise. And what about his numberless victims and the tireless efforts made on their behalf by victim's advocacy groups? It would be in vain no doubt. The hand of criminal justice reform is covered in blood and seething at the bone. At any rate, justice against this man was at the fingertips of the judge who failed to recognize who has been pulling the strings all along. Maybe our justice system is beholden to a toxic force on the outside (cough cough, lobbying firms?).
Mr. Schwartz's checkered past is far from a contrite one, racking up nine total convictions -- seven felonies in all -- spanning twenty years and some. Leading the way are two counts of PWID Sch. I, II & III Drugs; Poss. of a Stolen Vehicle; and a couple of probation violations. His lackluster record continues with two misdemeanor convictions, from petty larceny at the new millennium to a simple assault charge five years later. In the same twenty-year span, Mr. Schwartz has seen the inside of a jail cell over a dozen times but avoided the same fate from 2011 until his February arrest.
Be Our Partner in Justice
With a career colored by black portraits of misery terrorizing all who see, Keith Schwartz is still able to walk our streets. His shadow dashes through and through, making goodness crumble and innocent people stumble. It is the responsibility of those in power to sully reform efforts, however large and disconcerting. Will humility enter again into the fold? Now or it will be forever lost. We have the power to rewrite the script that has been given to us, that shabby piece of paper that was once thought to be uniform.
Soaking up all this information can take a toll on the best of us. But learning a thing or two about the depravity and carnage of Charleston's worst offenders reminds us of the courage of those sworn to protect us. With that is our vision to end this monstrosity of bail reform, replacing it with something formidable for a better and brighter future. But we can't do it without your help -- ordinary people like you would make the world of a difference by adding your signature to the form below. This "Take Action" prompt is your ticket to telling lawmakers enough is enough. (See: Power to the People by John Lennon)
Don't let the case of Keith Schwartz take a backseat -- help us to restore justice in a world seemingly absent of it. As always, feel free to drop a tip in our inbox if there's anything that raises an eyebrow. And don't forget to sound off in the comments down below to let us know how you feel.