Bill aims to toughen penalties for criminal domestic violence of - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Bill aims to toughen penalties for criminal domestic violence offenders

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South Carolina ranks No. 1 in the rate of women killed by men.

A bill pre-filed in the State House would stiffen the penalties for first-time domestic violence offenders, more than doubling their jail time and taking away any guns they may own. It would also require the offender to attend a CDV intervention program.

Kendra Albright said she and her two daughters are still dealing with years of psychological and physical abuse.

"When one of them was crying for their mom, he would physically restrain me and one time he shoved me down the stairs," Kendra said. "Fortunately, I caught the railing, or else I might not be here."

What started as control issues, ended with her abuser tampering with the brake lines in her car, Kendra said.

That was years ago but she's still paying down the legal debt, while working with Sistercare in Columbia, trying to help other women get out of abusive relationships before things go off the rails.

She's focused on prevention, and today said she doubted this bill would do much to cut down on the state's CDV rate.

Sponsored by Bamberg representative Bakari Sellers, it targets first-time offenders, giving them 180 days in jail, taking away any guns they might have and sending them to a CDV intervention program. It would also remove the $5,000 bond cap.

Kendra said in the heat of the moment that might not matter.

"I think it's highly unlikely that it will cross their mind and act as a deterrent in the heat of rage, anger and outbursts that are the result of their own issues," Kendra said. "I doubt he's going to stop and go, 'huh, maybe I shouldn't do this."

She's looking for education, focused on families who're already having issues, so that kids don't grow up to continue the cycle.

"Focused on young children, and intervening with families who have these problems," she said. "Teaching them in early school, and even before school, pre-school that they need to understand violence is never OK. Men and women should never hit each other."

Rep. Sellers said the bill isn't a silver bullet and that unfortunately you can't legislate family values. He said it's a step in the right direction and a problem this pervasive rarely had one solution.

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