Upstate woman pushes for prison sentencing reform in South Carol - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate woman pushes for prison sentencing reform in South Carolina

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(Source: Associated Press) (Source: Associated Press)

It's a bill being re-introduced for a second time in the South Carolina legislature.  It's called H3235 and it has to do with prison sentencing reform in the state.

The woman behind the bill said it's time for something different to be done, to keep prison costs down for everyone, and to give a second chance to those who have taken part in rehabilitation programs or through good behavior.

Erica Fielder with the nonprofit Hearts for Inmates, is pushing for the change.

“The main purpose is to bring awareness to sentencing reform in South Carolina by offering second chance legislation and reform, and just giving people who are incarcerated every tool necessary to become productive citizens," she said.

One of the things the bill would do, is allow prisoners who are not currently eligible for parole until 85 percent of their sentence is served, to ask for a modified sentence when they've served 65 percent.

But Fielder said they would have to earn that right to ask, through good behavior and work credits.  

“Those are things that could be used as a positive tool to help people as far as getting into that rehabilitation part that's necessary," she said.

But, not everyone feels the same way.

7th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette said it’s not good for victims and their families, or the public.

“I understand giving people second chances, but these people are usually repeat offenders or have done crimes so hideous that they deserve the time they got," Barnette said.

Representative Terry Alexander of Florence is sponsoring the bill.  He said it will save taxpayers money and believes there are enough safeguards in place to keep those who haven't been rehabilitated, behind bars.

“This bill gives families and people incarcerated the opportunity to come back and be productive citizens, providing that they meet all the requirements that are necessary to be paroled," he said.

We're told the next step for this bill is to try and get a hearing on it in front of the full Committee on Judiciary in the House.  Representative Alexander said he's hoping that happens soon.

Click here to see the bill.

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