Pope tells Mexican prisoners society needs system of ‘social health’

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February 17, 2016

Pope Francis accepts a crucifix from a prisoner as he visits Cereso prison in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-MEXICO-PRISON Feb. 17, 2016.

Pope Francis accepts a crucifix from a prisoner as he visits Cereso prison in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) — Pope Francis urged society to rethink its ideas of locking up inmates and throwing away the key, calling such an approach another symptom of the “throwaway culture” he often decries and “a symptom of a culture that has stopped supporting life, of a society that has abandoned its children.”

Speaking in a prison previously plagued by riots and controlled by drug cartels in a city once considered the “murder capital of the world,” the pope proposed focusing on prevention, reintegration and a system of “social health,” instead of on only on incarceration and insisting that inmates pay for their crimes.

“Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy with you is recalling the pressing journey that we must undertake in order to break the cycle of violence and crime,” Pope Francis said Feb. 17 at Cereso prison, home to some 3,000 inmates.

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