SANTIAGO, Chile – When a Pope visits a country, it is often difficult to know what immediate impact he has, that is, beyond small "miracles" such as a rare crime-free day in Bogota and Manila, or people who voluntarily They choose up their own garbage in places like Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
However, in the case of Pope Francisco's visit from January 15 to 18 to Chile, the first possible fruit could be something quite different, launching a reform in the country's woman prison system.
On Tuesday, Francis visited the San Joaquín women's prison in Santiago, capital of Chile. He met with some 500 inmates, including Janet Zurita, who asked the pontiff to intervene on his behalf to change the sentences for mothers of children under age.
In his comments to the pontiff, Zurita told him about the dreams and hopes of those who are deprived of their freedom, and thanked him for having thought not only of them, but also of his children, whom he said were "the who suffer the most for our mistakes. "
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The following day, Estela Ortiz, executive secretary of the National Council of Children of Chile, announced that the organization It will study possible measures so that under-age children prisoners can accompany their mothers in prisons.
According to the system, inmates in Chile can only have their children with them until they reach the age of two. After that, the children are placed under the care of a family member or in the foster care system.
Speaking to a local media outlet, Ortiz said that plans have already been made to meet with the head of the police department and see what the situation is like
"[We want to see] the immediate steps we can take, based on to the request they raised yesterday [Tuesday]"he told Cooperativa.
Ortiz also said that his council is looking at what measures can be taken so that mothers can have their children with them, at least until they reach the age of three, especially when they do not have relatives to take care of them.
Later in the journey, they will also evaluate the possibility of women serving their time in their homes, so they can be with their children.
From the beginning, the reform of prisoners and prison has been a clear priority of the pontificate of Francisco.
Just two weeks after his election in March 2013, the new pope visits juvenile detention in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday to wash the feet of twelve prisoners, including Muslims and women.
Since then, visits to prisons have become a standard feature of papal trips, including a famous stop at the "Social Readaptation Center No. 3" in Juarez, Mexico, during a trip to Mexico in February of 2016.
In November 2016, a group of approximately fifty inmates in an Italian prison for men called the detention center Costantino Satta organized a "flash mob" "Celebrating the Pope's leadership in prison reform, including Greeks, Romanians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Tanzanians, Italians and even a couple of British and Canadians, representing a variety of different religious backgrounds as well, such as Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox, Buddhists and Atheists.
Enchantedly, the prisoners executed a routine of Zumba style turns, funky steps and arm swings with the melody of "Pope is Pop", a song written by the Pope on the pontiff. Nogarotto
After a series of riots in the prison in Brazil in January 2017 left more than 50 people dead, Francisco renewed his call "that prisons can be places of reeducation and reintegration in society; and that the conditions of prisoners' lives may be worthy of human persons "