Monday, September 1 2014 1:31 PM EDT2014-09-01 17:31:17 GMT
The South Carolina Highway Patrol says a man on a motorcycle was killed in a crash Monday morning.Troopers say the crash occurred on Bookman Rd. about three miles west of Elgin at about 6 a.m. The motorcycleMore >>
The South Carolina Highway Patrol says a man on a motorcycle was killed in a crash Monday morningMore >>
STATE RADARINTERACTIVE RADARWEATHER ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE
Take a real-time look at where it's raining here in the Midlands and across the state with WIS First Alert radar.More >>
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -
Rick Palmer is known as a mentor by his students at Eau Claire High School. He runs their Young Life club, an after school ministry. They have to meet down the road and outside of the school because of his previous line of work.
"I'm not allowed access to all the schools in the district," said Palmer. "That's what I'm still fighting now even though I'm trying my best to connect with kids."
Jason Blackwell had to jump through some human resources hoops to hire him.
"It's been a tremendous blessing," said Blackwell. "He speaks straight into the world of these kids. He gets it."
To understand Palmer's previous life, we have to go back to the 1990's when he was just a kid in Columbia.
Palmer says a family move from Dreher High School to Lower Richland High School threw him off.
"We started off selling alcoholic beverages," said Palmer. "We would sell alcoholic beverages in school to underclassmen and even our peers."
Then he started selling marijuana.
"And then we started doing what's called capers, which is robberies," said Palmer. "We robbed a liquor store, then we robbed an auto parts place. We went from there to banks. By the end, we robbed four banks."
Palmer kept doing it because he kept getting away with it, avoiding arrest and jail time after time after time.
"For me, it was never a financial thing where I had to do it to survive, it was more of a sport," said Palmer.
But there's no question: being a criminal can be a lucrative way to live if you ask one of the people who sees it up close.
"They get caught, get released on bond. They have to pay the bondsmen, have to pay their attorney, so they go back to selling drugs, go back to breaking into houses, they get arrested again, that cycle just keeps going and going and going," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Sheriff Lott says it's the perfect storm: too few judges, solicitors, overcrowded jails all allowing a small population to cause a large problem.
"Probably 5 percent commit 95 percent of the crime," said Lott. "A 5 percent group doing majority of crime. We don't have 10,000 people breaking into houses. You have 50 people breaking into houses. They're breaking into multiple houses, all over the place, or doing robberies or stealing copper. It's a small amount of people. That's all they do."
Sheriff Lott thinks aside from money, the solution is in the State House. He is backing a bill that would mean if someone is arrested, then out on bond and is arrested a second time, they can't be granted bond again.
"We arrest the same person over and over," said Lott. "When is it gonna stop? When is that person gonna be held somewhere where he's not preying on the community?"
Palmer was eventually held. He served six years. During that time a man mentored him, shared his faith, and gave Palmer a friend who loved him like he says no one had.
"I was immediately transformed from a person who was taking to a person who wanted to give," said Palmer.
But still Palmer says it's a hard cycle to break. It's hard to give up the money, and it's hard to find a new livelihood because of the stigma of being a convicted felon.
Lott says Palmer is the perfect example of changing the course. Palmer says he's the exception because someone got in his face and intervened. Sometimes losing a job means finding a life.
"I have a wife, I have a son, I have all the things if you would've looked at me then you wouldn't of said it's gonna happen," said Palmer.
Lott says rehabilitation is often not an option. That's why he feels strongly about keeping repeat offenders behind bars.
As for that bill we mentioned, it's in Senate committee. It would revoke bond for some of these repeat offenders so they couldn't bond out two times in a row.
As for Palmer, he is applying for a gubernatorial pardon. If it's granted, he'll be able to work inside of schools.
Friday, February 15 2013 8:57 AM EST2013-02-15 13:57:38 GMT
If you're like me, you are alarmed at the number of violent crimes in the Midlands. Shootouts at a local bank, multiple armed robberies and home invasions. When asked about this seemingly alarming trend,More >>
If you're like me, you are alarmed at the number of violent crimes in the Midlands. Shootouts at a local bank, multiple armed robberies and home invasions. When asked about this seemingly alarming trend, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott dispelled a myth.More >>
Sunday, August 31 2014 4:12 PM EDT2014-08-31 20:12:10 GMT
CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Dozens of videos are all over Twitter from parties held at Coastal Carolina University. Many of the posts lead back to a group called I'm Shmacked. It makes videos at universitiesMore >>
Dozens of videos are all over social media from parties held at Coastal Carolina University.More >>
Friday, August 29 2014 12:21 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:21:29 GMT
An Alexander County woman is facing charges after deputies say she molested a four-year-old at a church while services were happening. According to the Alexander County Sheriff's Office, 52-year-old CarolMore >>
According to the Alexander County Sheriff's Office, 52-year-old Carol Diane Britto, of Taylorsville, was charged with one count of first degree statutory sex offense and one count of indecent liberties with a child.More >>
Monday, September 1 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-09-02 00:58:33 GMT
You've likely noticed a spike in gas prices across the Midlands. They have jumped almost 15 cents after a steady drop nationwide.Prices are about $3.11 in the area on Labor Day, which, when compared toMore >>
You've likely noticed a spike in gas prices across the Midlands. They have jumped almost 15 cents after a steady drop nationwide.More >>
Monday, September 1 2014 8:32 PM EDT2014-09-02 00:32:26 GMT
With a severe thunderstorm moving its way through the Midlands, customers across Richland and Lexington counties currently find themselves without power. South Carolina Electric & Gas is reporting overMore >>
Over 4,000 outages have been reported across the Midlands according to SCE&G.More >>
Monday, September 1 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:54:12 GMT
Whitney Hempsey remembered what doctors told her before she gave birth to her second child years ago. "It's like, 'Hey, are you tired of being pregnant?" Hempsey recalled. "'We can give you this and youMore >>
Mothers come together at Improving Birth Rally in an effort to stop rushed births.More >>
Monday, September 1 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:18:34 GMT
Under a bright Carolina sun, citizens across the state enjoy going out and making a few waves on the lakes. Some like Johnathan Crossland enjoy fishing as a method of recreation and relaxation for a while.More >>
Boaters and law enforcement officials provide safety advice when making waves on the lakes.More >>
Monday, September 1 2014 3:55 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:55:16 GMT
As America's population of World War II veterans continues to shrink, respect for their role in history appears to be growing. Among those heroes are the thousands of troops who brought Hitler's EuropeMore >>
As America's population of World War II veterans continues to shrink, respect for their role in history appears to be growing.More >>