Imprisonment without hope for the future is torture, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although prisoners must pay a price
for their crimes, incarceration must not be used as a method of torture but
rather an opportunity to become contributing members of society, Pope Francis

Punishment can be fruitful only when inmates are helped to look toward the future rather than only
back at a past lived out in shame, the pope said in a video message Aug.
24 to inmates at the Ezeiza
federal penitentiary in Argentina.

“Let us not forget that for punishment to be fruitful,”
the pope said, “it must have a horizon of hope, otherwise it remains
closed in itself and is just an instrument of torture; it isn’t fruitful.”

pope’s video message was addressed to inmates taking part in the
prison’s university studies program, which he said was one of many programs
that provide
“a space for work, culture, progress” and are “a sign of humanity.”

He thanked prison administration officials for allowing the
program as well as the inmates in charge of the student center — Marcelino, Guille and Edo — who he said he
“knew by phone.”

is happening among you in prison is a breath of life. And life — as you know — is a gift,
but a gift that must be conquered daily. It is given to us, but we must conquer
it every day. We must conquer it in every step of our life,” the pope

Prisoners must be given the hope of social reintegration and
empowerment, Pope Francis
said. And the prison’s educational studies program will give inmates a
chance to be productive members of society despite their crimes.

“It is shame with hope, a punishment with a horizon,”
the pope said. “I’ll say it again: There are and will be problems, but the
horizon is greater than problems; hope overcomes all problems.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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