South Carolina’s Home Invasion Policy

South Carolina’s Attorney General, Charlie Condon, has made national headlines for leading his state’s controversial anti-abortion efforts. Condon’s actions have made him enemy number one among some feminists. In January, however, Condon announced a new policy that should help women (and in fact already has in one case), and yet the media is raking him over the coals for it.

After hearing several reports of home invasions in South Carolina, Condon announced that the state would not prosecute individuals who killed intruders in their home. At the time Condon said,

The message needs to be sent loudly and clearly that the state is going to back the homeowner if their home is invaded. I’m putting home invaders on notice that if an occupant chooses to use deadly force, there will be no prosecution.

Apparently many in South Carolina thought Condon’s statement was a gimmick for public consumption — Condon made his announcement less than two weeks before beginning his campaign for Governor. But then a woman in South Carolina killed her boyfriend, and Condon stayed true to his word.

The case seems pretty straightforward. On February 17, Lisa Gant, 36, had an argument with the father of her child, William Brock, Jr., 39. Brock lived about 20 miles from Gant, but occasionally stayed at her house and had clothes and other possession in her apartment. Gant told police she argued with Brock and that he slapped her and put her in a headlock after she told him she wanted to end their relationship. She managed to get Brock to leave the apartment, slamming the door behind him and locking it.

Brock then proceeded to break down the locked door. When Brock entered the kitchen, Gant stabbed him in the chest with a filet knife. Brock staggered out to his car, and was found dead by police who arrived shortly thereafter.

Should Gant face prosecution?

Condon said no, and essentially ordered prosecutors, who had charged Gant with murder, to drop all charges. Local prosecutors and police would have preferred to place Gant on trial and let a judge and jury sort out whether or not she committed justifiable homicide.

In the absence of any evidence that Gant was untruthful about the events that transpired on February 17, 2001, what could possibly be served by putting her on trial. What is the point of asserting that people have a right to defend themselves only to put them before a jury to decide if Gant was really scared when her boyfriend broke down her door to get at her?

Condon nicely summed up the problem with viewing Gant and others like her as criminals who have to undergo an expensive trial to assert their right to defend themselves from intruders in their own homes,

You don’t want to put the homeowner in the position of saying, ‘If I use deadly force, I might be cleared after a trial.’ That’s tantamount to saying that people have rights, but there’s a huge cross attached to it. Most courts have a laissez-faire attitude about these things, figuring that everything will come out fine after a trial. But I think we need to send the messages that the home is sacred ground, period.


Home-invasion policy ignites South Carolina. David Firestone, The New York Times, March 16, 2001.

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