Philly Inmates Making Special Pope Chair

Prisoners at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility prepare for the world's spotlight.


Prisoners and officials at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility are busy preparing for the visit of Pope Francis when he comes to Philadelphia next month.

Reuters reports that the jail’s furniture shop is upholstering a special chair for the pope to sit in during his scheduled stop to visit inmates on Sunday, September 27th. “It gives us hope that somebody still cares,” said Dino Robinson, 29, one of two inmates in charge of building the chair. (Robinson isn’t Catholic.)

Elsewhere at Curran-Fromhold, Reuters reports, “it is a busy and anxious time for many of the employees and inmates. Workers are modifying corridors to accommodate Francis and his entourage. Inmates are waiting to find out which of them will be chosen to meet the pope. And staff members are busy checking and double-checking security protocols.”

“It’s really going to bring a level of humanity to the prison world and show that prisoners are people and deserve to be recognized,” said Ann Schwartzman, policy and program director at the Pennsylvania Prison Society.

Pope Francis has used his recent trips abroad to highlight the living conditions and treatment of prison inmates around the world. In the United States, there appears to be a growing bipartisan movement to reduce prison sentences and ease inmates’ transition back into society.

The pope is scheduled to meet with about 100 inmates and their families in the jail’s gymnasium.

“It’ll be a chance,” said Lou Giorla, the city’s prison commissioner, “for the world to take a look.”

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