COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A new program is taking off in South Carolina's prisons to help inmates develop compassion for others.

Started by former Orangeburg attorney Cheri Thompson, Healing Species has now trained inmates in two of the state's prisons as handlers for rescue dogs.

Inmates are charged with caring for the dogs, day in and day out. Thompson says the program helps foster inmates' sense of responsibility and empathy, something they can carry into their lives outside the prison walls.

It's also good for the dogs. Thompson says the dogs can be adopted out to families once they've learned good behavior and routine with the help of their inmate handlers.

Thompson says the Healing Species program is expected to be expanded to several other South Carolina prisons this year.