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Pastor Francisco Loor: The pacification process does not imply imposing a religion on each person deprived of liberty

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Subcommittee will focus on seeking educational, economic, labor support and a “relationship with God” to achieve a true social rehabilitation.

The Penitentiary Dialogue Commission created by executive decree by President Guillermo Lasso, in order to initiate a pacification process in the country’s social rehabilitation centers, has a sub-commission that seeks the ‘integral transformation of the person deprived of liberty’ , according to his spokesman, Pastor Francisco Loor, who explains what this project consists of, still in the improvement stage, together with the other members of this working group: the priest Luis Barrios, an expert in criminal justice and rehabilitation, from the United States. Unidos, and Jorge Narváez Matamoros, who represents the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference.

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Loor, representative of the Evangelical Church, anticipates that they will not talk about religion or impose any on the inmates in this attempt to pacify the prisons, but will focus on a “relationship with God” and on seeking educational and work support, among other matters, to achieve a true social rehabilitation.

What has been raised in this subcommittee in which there are representatives of the evangelical and catholic churches?

The first thing to understand is that this is not about religion, but about establishing a good relationship with God. Starting from there, we set specific objectives such as carrying out a personalized follow-up to each PPL to help them in their spiritual, emotional, family, physical and economic life. We want to provide, through agreements with institutions, academic instruction so that they finish their studies, train and manage to undertake.

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And how are they going to do it?

We must work in coordination with the different ministries of the presidential cabinet to obtain the support of the Government in academic and cultural training, coverage of social assistance and quality health care. We must also knock on the doors of private companies for entrepreneurship projects and the provision of teleworking sources for inmates, whose remuneration can be given to relatives or deposited in a fixed-term savings account until the sentence is fulfilled. With financial entities, the intention is to activate loan projects payable at a favorable interest rate and in a reasonable time, and to prepare a system of financial culture for savings and investment.

The project you start with begins with a biblical testimony about Joseph, can you explain why?

Joseph was in prison in Egypt for thirteen years. Accused of rape, he entered the most difficult situation that a human being could go through: hated by his brothers, without any economic possibility, and as a foreigner in a nation where almost no one knew him. But Joseph knew that in the midst of these difficult circumstances God was with him and the prison became a school of transformation.

And transformation is the goal.

Exactly, this is what we want to implement for the PPL, that they have a change for the better, not a school of deterioration of their life and their future, that they take advantage of the time they have to serve their sentence studying, preparing, creating enterprises, strengthening his character and his spiritual life. Recovering values, their faith and their relationship with God. The idea is that they can discover their strengths so that they are productive people for society, that is what we want.

Isn’t the plan to turn them into religious people?

Without touching the religious, the part of faith is always fundamental. You have to make a differentiation between what is a relationship with God and religion. When you have a correct relationship with God, your life will be filled with transforming principles and values, because your relationship makes you a better person. The religious part sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Why not?

Because in many cases religion, whatever it may be, is an imposition and there is no collaboration there because it is an imposed issue, which is not felt and is not the engine of their life. We are going to try that each PPL can have a relationship with God, but without imposing any religion. It is not about proselytizing inside prison, but about delivering transformed people, who demonstrate with facts that their spiritual life and values ​​are genuine and not a facade.

When are they going to start?

The project still needs to be polished with the members of the commission, but it is planned to start this January. Our vision is to achieve the spiritual, family, social and economic transformation of each person deprived of liberty in Ecuador.

Right now we have the structure, but we are going to enrich it with the ideas and proposals of the members of the commission so that the project can be improved, but we already have a starting point to move forward. We hope that this will have the attention of Government entities and international entities that are interested in the well-being of the PPL.

But the situation is complex.

There is a very large chain of oppression for them, because we see that they are immersed in a criminal economy, it is difficult to get out of that, but not impossible.

We will have the support of the chaplain leaders in the country, the support of those who have already worked or developed projects with people deprived of liberty, international help from non-profit organizations that are interested in the rehabilitation and well-being of the PPL.

What has been the support of the Church before the prison crisis?

The contribution of the Church has been vital, but unfortunately in previous years (since 2014) the door was closed to the Church, there was a lot of support, activities, but later access to the pavilions was prevented, there was lack of control and some were lost. Years of work done, that affected, because the Church was a very important contribution to the transformation of the PPL, especially those of high danger, some of them changed and became entrepreneurs, many are pastors, excellent parents.

With a transformation in faith, rehabilitation is effective, it is not a utopia, but unfortunately the work of the Church was lost for some years and now we hope to recover that great contribution, because where the Church has been carrying a message of transformation, there has been tranquility in prisons. (I)

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