Reducing South Carolina’s prison population and easing the transition of ex-inmates back into society are two major aims of a $215,000 grant just given to the Columbia-based Appleseed Legal Justice Center, an advocacy group for the low income on numerous issues.
The grant, by the Nelson Mullins law firm of Columbia, will support an attorney, Shirene Hansotia, a former Charleston County public defender, who will join Appleseed’s staff.
Nelson Mullins was recently in the news for its successful lawsuit that took nearly 15 years and resulted in the S.C. Department of Corrections making broad improvements in the way it treats mentally ill prisoners.
The grant to Appleseed, an advocate for the state’s low income in numerous areas, to study justice reforms is an effort to “work toward comprehensive improvements, this time outside of litigation,” Nelson Mullins attorney Stuart Andrews said.
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“Everybody involved understands that a bipartisan, pragmatic approach to criminal justice issues is the most effective way to improve public safety and the lives of offenders and victims,” Andrews said.
One goal of Hansotia’s work will be to increase the number of faith-based organizations and nonprofits to help the transition of ex-prisoners back to their communities by getting them to help with social adjustment, housing and jobs. She will also work with government groups to explore solutions.