Letter to the editor: Judicial system in Sumter is broken, violates rights


Hello, my name is Wendy Allen, and I am writing to tell you about my son, Chad Allen Kron. Chad is a 32-year-old married man who owns and operates his own electrical business. Chad is a friendly, caring person, a great son and a wonderful husband. Chad won the USC Region II Science and Engineering Fair while in fifth grade, traveled to Australia with People to People's Student Ambassador Program when he was 12 years old, sang in school choirs, acted in multiple school plays and attended various enrichment summer camp programs throughout his school years. After graduating high school, he went to Francis Marion University in Florence. Once he returned to Sumter full time, he got a job with an insulation company as an estimator. He worked with a solar company first as a helper then an installer and later a troubleshooter. Worked as an electrician's apprentice and is now the owner and operator of his own business. My son is a law-abiding member of the community; he is not a threat to himself or others. He is not a flight risk and will appear in court any time he is scheduled to. Is it fair to detain, hold, lock up or incarcerate an innocent-until-proven-guilty citizen?

He is currently being detained at the county jail on drug charges and has been there for the past 77 days.

On April 2, 2024, my son was awoken at 6 a.m. to the sound of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office along with the FBI demanding he and anyone else inside come out with their hands above their heads. From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the FBI, the bomb squad and the sheriff's department searched the home, the outbuildings and vehicles located on the property. All of the so-called drugs that were found were either bath salts, pool salts or powdered aspirin; if tested on site that would have been proved at the residence. So, after testing and examining the evidence, there should have been no need to arrest and detain Chad.

Chad was taken into custody and transported to the Sumter County Detention Center aka jail. Went to bond court on April 3, 2024. He was not assigned a public defender to ask for lower bond. Before being shuffled through, he was told do not to speak, stay standing 'til told to sit. Nothing was explained; he had to read the paperwork to find out his charges and his bond. He further read he would have a preliminary hearing May 10.

I visited Chad for the first time on April 8, and he said he wasn't explained what the steps were to get a public defender. He had to learn what the procedure was from another inmate. Once informed that he had to fill out the form, he submitted his paperwork.

On April 18, the FBI returned to Chad's residence with another search warrant to get Chad's cellphone. Chad was not informed about this and didn't find out until he spoke with his wife later that day.

On May 2, Chad's location in jail was changed; when he inquired as to why, he was told by a correction officer he had no clue.

May 4, finally got assigned a public defender more than a month in jail, and he gets assigned a lawyer who to this day he still has not met with to discuss his case. He spoke to her on the phone once and was told she wouldn't get back in touch 'til after she received discovery, i.e., the evidence pertaining to his case.

On the 9th of May, he was once again moved from one pod to another; this time he didn't bother to ask why because he already knew the answer would be I don't know.

May 10 comes and goes. Chad's preliminary hearing never happened. When asked why, CO says, "If they want you, they will call you."

May 15, Chad is told to go to the nurse's office. Without explanation or verifying who he was, she comes at him with an alcohol swab ready to give him a "shot"; Chad asks what is going on, and she says it is a TB test.

So, without signing anything or even asking for permission, Chad felt as though he had no choice as to whether he let her administer the test. When asked why he needed a TB test, he was told all those on federal hold are required to have one.

On June 4, finally got to speak with his public defender and was told Sumter County is slow, it would take awhile for discovery to come back. When asked how long, he was told it will take a while and once we receive it, we'll set up a time to meet with you.

On June 7, the FBI presented a warrant to collect Chad's DNA. Again he asked why and if he could refuse; he was told he could refuse and then they would have to take the sample forcefully at the hospital. So, it was his choice to cooperate or not. Not sure of his rights, he felt like he had no choice but to let them take the DNA sample.

Seventy-seven days in, and nothing has been explained about why he was targeted for a search of his home? Why he needed a TB test? Why his DNA was collected? Why his bail is so high for a first-time offense. He is still sitting in the county jail. Why he has yet to meet with his lawyer?

We are all aware of how broken the judicial system is. There aren't enough guards in the jail, there aren't enough public defenders to serve those in need. The backlog is no joke; how long is someone supposed to be held innocent until proven guilty?

Multiple rights have been violated in this case — right to be informed of the nature of the complaint, meaning inform the accused of the charges against him and the nature of the charges and ensure they fully understand. Right to counsel, he learned about the procedure to gain counsel from the other inmates and once he filled out the paperwork wasn't appointed counsel till a month later and still has not met with said lawyer.

Right to due process, nothing has been filed on his behalf. No lawyer for the bond hearing so the bond was not fair and reasonable. The Preliminary hearing to determine whether sufficient evidence existed to warrant the defendant being held for pretrial detention. was originally scheduled for April 10th was cancelled with no explanation. Right to a speedy and fair trial, this 6th Amendment right is sitting at 77 days and nothing. All of these rights that are afforded to us all in the constitution has been stepped on in this Case and in many other as well.

The problems with the judicial system, bail, pretrial detention, overcrowding, the backlog, lack of lawyers and personnel to work in the jail are all things we can't fix overnight but something needs to be done for thousands of people like my son, Chad Kron, who are caught up in this system.