Hearts for Inmates rally for bill that could reduce sentencing

    Hearts for Inmates rally for bill that could reduce sentencing. (WACH)

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Dozens gathered at the State House on Saturday hoping to appeal to lawmakers on behalf of South Carolina inmates.

    Hearts for Inmates hosted a rally in support of a house bill that could reduce the required time for mandatory minimum sentences from 85 percent to 65 percent.

    Lester Young, Jr., a previous Department of Corrections inmate for 22 years, says the change could inspire hope in the thousands of inmates currently serving time.

    "I know how important it is to have hope," said Young. "And I stand for that bill because it provides hope for a group of men who are actually working on themselves in prison to better themselves."

    The bill, H.5155, could not only reduce sentencing, but also give credit for things like good behavior, work and education.

    Erica Fielder, founder of Hearts for Hope, says it gives inmates a reason to better themselves and stay out of trouble while behind bars.

    "When you look at a person who has no hope, they're almost at a point where they have nothing to lose," said Fielder. "But if you can give a person the hope, it's almost live, reliving and being re-birthed because you now have the ability to keep going to push toward getting back home to your family."

    Lawmakers are slated to review the bill within the next few weeks.

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