Rehabilitation Should Be Goal of Prisons, Insists Holy See

Vatican Official Also Assails Privatization of Jail Management

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DUBLIN, Ireland, SEPT. 8, 2003 ( The goal of prisons should be the rehabilitation of inmates, the Holy See said in a message to the International Commission for the Pastoral Care of Prisoners meeting here.

In the message, Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, emphasizes the principles of Church teaching on prisoners, particularly the inalienable dignity of every human being, including serious criminals.

He highlighted respect for the state of law as a guarantee for prisoners and the need for justice in police investigations, court proceedings and sentencing.

The message, addressed to Catholic prison chaplains, was read by the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Bishop Gianpaolo Crepaldi, to the more than 200 delegates from 140 countries, Vatican Radio reported.

Archbishop Martino lamented the fact that an appeal made by the Pope during the Jubilee Year has been practically forgotten. That papal appeal called for «a sign of clemency for the benefit of all those under arrest.»

Lastly, the archbishop confirmed his opposition to the privatizing of prison management, which has either been adopted or is being considered by a number of nations.

«It is necessary to avoid the possibility that such an option might reduce the prison sentence to a service dominated by the profit motive,» he said. «No reform must lose sight of the fact that the priority in this area continues to be the absolute respect for the dignity of the person sentenced and his rehabilitation in society.»

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