Imprisonment without hope is like torture says Pope

Imprisonment without offering the prisoners hope in the future is the same as torturing them, says Pope Francis.

While he agrees prisoners must pay the price for the crimes they have committed, the punishment can be effective “only when inmates are helped to look toward the future rather than only back at a past lived out in shame”, Francis said to prisoners at the Ezeiza federal penitentiary in Argentina via a video message.

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

The inmates are taking part in the prison’s university programme.

Francis says the programme and others like it provide “a space for work, culture, progress” and are “a sign of humanity”.

Francis used to visit the prison when he was living in Argentina.

He still stays in touch via Sunday phone calls which he makes each week.

This week’s video message was a special communication, sent to mark the occasion of the opening of a musical course for inmates, carried out in cooperation with the University of Buenos Aires.

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