Home Equality & Justice India's prison ministry urges gov't, Church to ease suffering of prisoners

India’s prison ministry urges gov’t, Church to ease suffering of prisoners

"It is the duty of the government to make sure that prisoners enjoy the fundamental and basic human rights” said the group

The Prison Ministry India (PMI) has urged the government and the Church to adopt concrete steps to ease the hardship of those behind bars, their families, and the rehabilitation of those released.

“Incarceration must give every opportunity for prisoners to accept their own guilt, acknowledge their need for repentance and reformation,” read the group’s mission statement.

“It is the duty of the government to make sure that prisoners enjoy the fundamental and basic human rights,” added the group at the end of its convention held at St Joseph Vaz Renewal Centre in Goa.

The program drew more than 450 delegates from all over India. The ministry has more than 8,000 volunteers working in over 1,300 jails across the country.

Pinpointing “serious problems to be remedied,” the ministry urged the government to take “immediate action” to end overcrowding, corruption, delay in trial, neglect of health and hygiene, and address the large percentage of undertrials in prisons.

It also stressed the need for steps, such as facilitating “visits by spouses and family members, classification of prisoners, adequate and qualified prison staff, scientific, systematic and regular training of prison staff, including special consideration to women prisoners especially the pregnant and mothers with children.”

Quoting Pope Francis, the convention challenged the Church with the question: “If these brothers and sisters have already paid for the evil committed, why is a new social punishment put on their shoulders by rejection and indifference?”

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The group also urged bishops, dioceses and parishes “to launch many more schemes for released prisoners such as employment, housing, healthcare, marriage, shelter homes and homes for prisoners’ children.”

“Serving prisoners is serving suffering Christ. The pope has shown the path for us,” said Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa in his address before the assembly on November 16.

Bishop Alwyn D’Silva, chairperson of the desk for the Prison Ministry India under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, reminded the convention of the challenges before them.

“Let us not forget that repentance and reconciliation are acts of grace and spiritual warfare for overcoming our worldly challenges and struggles,” reminded Bishop D’Silva.

Read full story on Matters India

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