LM: I have been doing all kinds of environmental and social justice work for over 30 years. I feel like this would be a good way to get this work done. To bring up issues that no one else will talk about. Everyone now is talking about immigration reform and health care reform and not talking about what is going on here in South Carolina.
CCP: What would you do to help reform the prison system?
LM: America has the highest lock up rate per capita in the world. South Carolina used to be number one in the country, but now it is Louisiana I think. They did just pass a prison reform bill, which was pretty amazing that they did that. It was bi-partisan. I know that South Carolina ranks pretty low in terms of how habitable our jails are. We spend less per capita on prisoners than just about anyone in the nation. They have to change the sentencing structure. The whole tough on crime theory everyone went for because it got them votes. They had all this mandatory sentencing which is just sad and extremely expensive. There are a lot of non violent criminals in jail; you know thereâ€™s house arrest. The whole probation and pardon services needs changing too. Last year 5,000 people eligible for parole came before them, they only let out about 500. I am not saying all those people should be let out but about 20 years ago they would let out about 60%. They are keeping people in that could potentially be back on the streets working as productive citizens.
CCP: Will you do things like sue the Federal Government to keep your name in the press or sue a classifieds Web site for advertising Asian massage parlors? What will you do to keep your name in the press?
LM: No, No, No, Ha. I really donâ€™t think I need to keep my name in the press.
CCP: What would you do as far as DHEC reform?
LM: Thatâ€™s really up to the legislature. There is the whole thing about environmental crimes. Recently, legislation was passed that in South Carolina environmental criminals could be brought before the grand jury. It turns out there was a little clause added at behest of the state Chamber of Commerce. That first it has to be proven that the environmental crime caused at least 2 million dollars of damage. Well that is something that you really canâ€™t prove. Thereâ€™s a lot of damage that you donâ€™t know about until years down the road. Consequently, there hasnâ€™t been any prosecution of environmental crimes by the state grand jury. And another problem is that most environmental crimes are misdemeanors. Like look what has happened to Tin Products where they knowingly dumped into the Congaree Creek, killed an untold number of fish, and it shut the creek down for like a year. And what happened to those people? You get a lot more trouble for selling two ounces of marijuana than for destroying an ecosystem.
CCP: I heard you did fantastic on the WIS debate with Richardson and ummm?
LM: Wilson. I debated Richardson and Wilson. I wish they would post the debate. I was trying to stay focused on issues of South Carolina instead of the federal issues. I tried to stay focused on issues like domestic violence, which actually McMaster has actually done some good work on that, and crime. They asked us what we would do to save money at the Attorney Generalâ€™s office and I said, â€œdecriminalize marijuana.â€ I felt bad because those guys didnâ€™t have a chance to respond to my suggestion because I know they wanted to. I just feel like the prohibitionâ€¦ that it is going about as well as prohibition is to alcohol. California Proposition 19 is coming up, and you know the California NAACP has come out in support of Proposition 19 because a disproportionate number of young black men are in jail.
CCP: It could save our economy if we taxed the hell out of it!
LM: Thatâ€™s what I brought up too. I think they should further tax cigarettes for health issues. There are problems with health care reform, they are making us buy into a broken system. We spend more on health care than anybody else in the world and we are some of the sickest people in the world. It is just sad. The CDC says that of the 2 trillion dollars we spend on health care that 1.5 trillion dollars is on preventable diseases. Most of that is because of what we eat and drink. One of the theories on why everyone is getting heavy is that they are drinking sodaâ€™s every meal of the day. And they say that the fake sweetener stuff starts giving people the symptoms of MS.
CCP: What other issues are you raising?
LM: We do need comprehensive hate crimes legislation. For example, the young gay teenager Sean Kennedy in Greenville, was punched in the face so hard he died and the guy got a year in jail. It was considered manslaughter because there was no hate crime legislation.
CCP: So when I get into legal troubles and you are Attorney General will you help me out?
LM: Iâ€™ll send some of the staff. You donâ€™t have to be a lawyer to be a Supreme Court Justice either. But my job is to supervise the prosecution of criminal cases. Iâ€™m a good supervisor tooâ€¦all my employees love me.
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