SC non-violent offenders buyback jail time by helping Hurricane Matthew victims

A truck sits stranded on Interstate 95 in floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. People were ordered to evacuate, and officials warned that some communities could be cut off by washed out roads or bridge closures. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) -Non-violent criminals in Horry County are trading time behind bars for time helping Hurricane Matthew victims rebuild.

The program is called Pretrial Intervention, or PTI.

It’s for non-violent offenders, or people who commit crimes like shoplifting or simple possession, but don’t have a criminal history.

Director of the program Mary Powell says the criminals have to serve 60 hours of community service.

“They are in here because they’ve done something wrong, or they’ve been accused of doing something wrong. So, to actually give back to the community, it helps them a lot,” said Powell.

In their most recent project, the offenders collected more than $8,000 worth of cleaning supplies, food, and diapers for flood victims in Horry County.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says the also volunteered labor for clean-up after the storm.

“We set them up with a group and gave them the opportunity to work off their community service by cutting down trees or cutting limbs, that sort of stuff, helping out in the Socastee community or in Nichols,” said Richardson.

Richardson says the PTI program is only available one time to those non-violent offenders and not everyone is eligible.

He says right now they have about 100 people in the program. It consists of 60 hours of community service, a prison tour, drug and alcohol testing, and it takes about a year to complete.

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