Rally at State House supported bill to help prisoners reduce sentences


St. Patrick’s Day was on people’s minds, but for one advocacy group, a rally at the State House Saturday afternoon showed what was in their hearts. Focusing on prison reform, the event was put on by the group “HEARTS for Inmates”, which aims to provide support to those who are incarcerated.

HEARTS for Inmates stands for help, encourage, aspire, redeem and trust. They connect with other organizations to provide rehabilitation services like drug and alcohol treatment, mental health support, educational programs plus job training and job placement.

Saturday’s rally on the steps of the State House was also in support of Bill H3235. The bill aims to allow inmates who have committed “no parole offenses” to earn more days against their sentence for good behavior. Supporters say the legislation will give inmates a better chance at getting a second chance.

“If he does not have these opportunities, he has no motivation to get better,” Pastor Curtis Johnson of the Valley Brook Baptist Church in Greenville said. “No motivation to change, no motivation to care about what happens to him or anybody else. We’ve got them hope.”

Bill H3235 will mean a person convicted of a non-parole offense may petition the court to have their sentence reduced, but only if they’ve completed a rehabilitation program, an education program or has shown good behavior.

The bill and rally comes on the heels of a recent lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Corrections for a failure to test inmates for Hepatitis C.

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