The greatest problem for prisoners is that society will always see them as only that. A thief or a killer is labelled for life according to the error they have made.
The Service for Prisoners was born of the encounters between various members of the Pope John XXIII Community and prisoners in prisons in Italy and overseas.
These meetings were often with people with a history of being abandoned, been denied the opportunity for education and cultural growth, their childhood spent in degraded family and social environments often on the margins of the law and who then embarked on the misleading path of delinquency. The prime objective is to recover prisoners as people and reintegrate them into society, combatting the stigma that accompanies ex-prisoners.
The project Beyond Bars, involves, with the agreement of the institutions, both contact inside prison, with dialogue and stimulating activities of various kinds, and developing and trying out new ways of serving the penalty, aimed at genuine rehabilitation of the individual. Our experience has taught us that only 8% of those who have completed the rehabilitation programme in one of our centres return to crime, compared to a national average, in Italy, of 70-75%.
The Community works with prisoners in Italy, Tanzania, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Chile, Bolivia and Cameroon.
The Pope John XXIII Community has come up with an innovative project whose priority is to offer prisoners an education. The Prisoners’ Educational Community offers those undergoing rehabilitation a course of education, initially in the family context then, in the later stages, vocational in which the course becomes both therapeutic and a means of social reintegration.
To encourage reflection on the themes of personal and social change, APG23 has launched the University of Forgiveness, an educational programme involving seminars on specific themes conducted by experts in various disciplines and which are experiential in nature.