Pope Benedict visited Rebibbia Prison on the outskirts of Rome for Christmas, reported Reuters. The Pope told prisoner in one of Italy's toughest prisons that overcrowding was a "double sentence" and whatever their offence, it could not erase their dignity.
The 84-year-old pope appeared in good form, reading an address to inmates and delivering unscripted answers to their questions for about half an hour. He greeted a number of them personally in the prison's church.
"I know that overcrowding and degradation in prison can make detention even more bitter," he told several hundred inmates reported Reuters. The prison has 500 more inmates than the 1,240 it was built to hold.
"Prisoners are human beings who are worthy, despite their crime, of being treated with respect and dignity," he said.
According to Reuters, the pope said overcrowding and poor conditions were tantamount to serving "a double sentence" and that authorities should do everything possible to improve the situation.
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