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McMaster again calls on lawmakers to increase punishments for repeat criminals

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(The Center Square) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has renewed his call for state lawmakers to toughen the punishments for repeat criminals.

In April, the Republican governor pleaded with lawmakers to pass legislation to crack down on illegal guns and to pass bond reform. Lawmakers did not do so before adjourning last month.

However, the governor subsequently called for a special session to address several hot-button issues, including a fetal heartbeat measure and the state budget. If lawmakers do not pass an updated budget, the state will continue to operate under a continuing resolution with spending levels remaining the same as last fiscal year.

“However, unlike the state budget, if the General Assembly does not close the revolving door for criminals before they go home, there is no continuing resolution and no contingency plan … that will close that revolving door for criminals,” the governor said during a Tuesday news conference. “It will remain wide open.”

South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Corporal B.A. Frazier, who was shot on the right side of his face during an April 16 traffic stop in Bamberg County, joined McMaster for the press conference. During the conference, the governor cited the cases of two offenders with extensive histories to illustrate the need for reform.

“When there are not serious deterrents to crimes, that only encourages criminals to continue to commit crimes,” South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Robert Woods said during the news conference. “When we don’t take career criminals — as the governor pointed out — and keep them in jail, they’re just going to continue to be a threat to our people, to our society, to our citizens.”

When asked why lawmakers have been thus far reluctant to pass reform legislation, the governor could not give a precise reason for why.

“It’s hard to determine why it’s not being done,” McMaster said.

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