Proposed bill could allow early release of certain inmates

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) -- Lawmakers could discuss a bill that would give prisoners incentives for good behavior.

House bill H. 5155 focuses on mandatory minimum sentences, and would potentially lower the the minimum time inmates are required to serve from 85 percent to 65 percent.

The bill would also give credits for good behavior, work, and education.

One advocate of the bill, Erica Fielder, says many prisoners who face these tough sentences see no reason to hope or become model citizens.

"Right now, these men and women in the state are in a state of hopelessness," said Fielder. "More than half the prison population are sentenced to truth in sentencing, which is a mandatory of minimum for 85 percent. They're not in any type of rehabilitative programs, not receiving education or job or training or skills..."

Fielder is the founder of Hearts for Inmates, an organization petitioning for the support of H. 5155. The petition has gained over 21,000 signatures.

"It's not saying give; they're earning," said Fielder. "And most of them are there doing the work already and not getting anything for it."

Local groups opposed to the bill say its passing could pose an injustice to the victims of the crimes committed by inmates.

Lawmakers tentatively plan to discuss the bill later this week.

Hearts for Inmates has a rally planned at the State House this weekend.

For more information on H. 5155, click here.

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