FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARLESTON - Charleston County voters elected a new sheriff for the first time in more than three decades, making a clear statement in favor of policies to advance law enforcement oversight and accountability and eliminate racism in the county’s criminal justice system. In a race that garnered national attention, voters demanded reforms that are aligned with the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina’s (ACLU SC) platform to advance justice and true public safety throughout the state by reducing communities’ overreliance on police and incarceration and ending South Carolina’s two-tiered justice system.
“From the streets to the voting booth, people in Charleston County have demanded an end to racism, violence, and overpolicing by law enforcement,” said ACLU SC Executive Director Frank Knaack. “Charleston County voters were informed about the civil liberties and civil rights issues at stake in this election, and they chose a platform that will address head-on the disproportionate burden our system places on Black, Brown, Indigenous and poor people by holding law enforcement accountable, ending local cooperation with ICE, and reallocating funds from the sheriff’s department budget to support community programs and services that promote safety.”
For the first time in its more than 50-year history, ACLU SC launched a campaign to inform voters about key civil liberties and civil rights issues at the center of the race for Charleston County Sheriff. During this campaign, ACLU-SC partnered with the ACLU to engage nearly 100,000 Charleston County voters through direct mail, paid advertising, and phone and text banks.
The organization asked each of the two candidates for sheriff to complete a questionnaire highlighting issues from ACLU-SC’s platform to advance safe and just communities in South Carolina. Candidates were asked to commit to policy priorities including ending Charleston County’s 287g agreement and cooperation with ICE, banning harmful police practices, increasing oversight and accountability of police, and reallocating a portion of the Sheriff’s Department budget to community services that promote public safety.
Sheriff-elect Kristin Graziano committed to all of these policies. Outgoing Sheriff Al Cannon did not respond to the questionnaire but publicly opposed banning no-knock warrants and established and maintained Charleston County’s 287(g) agreement and cooperation with ICE.
“While we do not endorse or oppose candidates,” said Knaack, “voters have shown clear support for the ACLU of South Carolina’s policy platform. Moving forward, we will focus our efforts on guaranteeing that these policy commitments are fulfilled and Charleston's public safety system ensures the safety and well-being of all.”
More information about the campaign is available here.
ACLU SC and ACLU are nonpartisan organizations and do not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. The organizations’ goal is to promote voter education and voter participation.