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Chilean bishops renew call for prison reform

Catholic World News - December 10, 2010

In July, the bishops had requested that the nation’s president consider showing clemency to women prisoners with children, elderly prisoners, and terminally ill prisoners, including Pinochet-era criminals, if they no longer constitute a danger to society and have shown good behavior in prison.

“Many prisons do not offer solid opportunities for the rehabilitation of inmates,” said Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepción, president of the nation’s episcopal conference, on December 8. “On the contrary, people often become more violent and dehumanized than those who have facilitated the development of the crime. We believe that the country should clearly know the causes of this tragedy and the humiliating conditions in which many prisoners live.”

“The conditions in prisons undermine the fundamental dignity of human rights,” the nation’s justice minister said after the tragedy. “We have a situation of overcrowding in the order of 70% nationally; where there is room for 100 prisoners, there are 170 people, and this is a serious situation.”

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