Sentencing someone to life in prison without the possibility of parole is “not the solution to problems, but a problem to solve,” Pope Francis told Italian prison guards, prison chaplains and officials from the Ministry of Justice.
“If you close hope in a cell, there is no future for society,” the pope told thousands of guards, chaplains, volunteers and their family members during an audience in St Peter’s Square on 14th September.
Among those present were two detainees who are serving life sentences, but are engaged in a formal process of recognising the gravity of their crimes, making amends as far as possible and preparing to apply for parole.
While protecting its citizens, the pope said, every society must also seek ways to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes and find ways to help them make positive contributions to society.
Making someone pay for the “errors of the past” cannot mean “cancelling their hope for a future,” he said. In fact, everyone has “the right to hope”.
Saying he wanted to address all inmates, Pope Francis said he had one word for them: “courage.”
Picture: Pope Francis poses for a photo during an audience with members of the Italian Prison Police in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 14th September 2019. The pope told prison guards, chaplains and officials that life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole are not the solution but a problem to be solved. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).