Petition #11382508


Charleston sheriff Nathaniel Cleary proposes reforms in his office and in the judicial system. He asserts that "our Criminal Code stands before you a patched, rusty and uncouth edifice, in most of the feudal tyranny, superstitious cruelty, and sombrous ignorance of its remote origin." For example, he states, fifty-one crimes can result in capital punishment, and branding is still a punishment listed on the books, thus showing that the laws should undergo "a radical, thorough and instantaneous reformation." In addition, Cleary seeks larger appropriations to prevent the "ingress and return of negroes and persons of color into this state." Averring that this job requires the "utmost vigilance and activity among his deputies," Cleary is of the opinion that, unless he commits more resources to it, the problem will persist. The sheriff also seeks to improve the fee structure, speed of the legal process, compensation for sheriffs who testify before a grand or petit juries, and jail allowances. The 37 1/2 cents a day allowance for each prisoner, for example, is barely enough to provide food, much less blankets or clothing. Moreover, allowances for imprisoned debtors should be granted from the time of their arrest. Recently, the time in jail for insolvent debtors was extended, he states, but "there is not regulation of any avail for the support, from any quarter whatever, of an insolvent while in prison ... before it is proven that he is at all in debt."

Result: Referred to judiciary committee.

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Citation information

Repository: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina