Argentina: Evangelical inmates act as a firebreak during prison riots
In recent riots at the Coronda and Las Flores prisons, five inmates died, pavilions were taken, and the pharmacies looted. Christian inmates worked to be peacemakers.
Evangélico Digital · SANTA FE · 01 APRIL 2020 · 10:37 CET
On March 23 there were riots in the Argentinian prisons of Coronda and Las Flores (Santa Fe province). At least five people died and two were injured.
The “evangelical pavilions”, with a majority of prisoners who have embraced faith in Jesus, were the ones who prevented the spread of a spiral of violence throughout the unit.
OVERCROWDING, SUSPENSION OF VISITS
The growing tension in the Santa Fe prisons and in other prisons across the country emerged due to a combination of factors and the exceptional situation that the coronavirus pandemic has brought.
In addition to the overcrowding, the suspension of visits and the rumors of possible releases, were a breeding ground for the protests. The detainees also say that the closing of the visits implied a lack of food.
In this latest riot, the pavilions were taken, mattresses burned and the pharmacies of the units looted.
Sources in the prison said that the evangelical prisoners in those pavilions did not participate in the riots, preventing a bigger harm.
CONVERSIONS IN PRISON
In the Coronda prison there are nine Christian pavilions representing approximately 30% of the inmates. They are assisted by 2 pastors.
There are more and more conversions of prisoners who choose the path of faith, as a way of life to endure confinement and modify their harmful behaviors.
But the aim is not to convert prisons into churches, but to be able to work with prisoners, who, not being evangelicals, embrace the good moral conduct that exists in these pavilions. This helps to improve the coexistence.
Evangelicals who work in prisons expect prisoners to abide by standards of conduct based on Christian practice, discipline and order, always respecting the rules imposed by the prison system.
Because of the joint work with the authorities and the prison workers, the conflicts of the inmates who stay there, both between themselves and with the prison staff, have largely disappeared.
In the Coronda prison, whose building is generally in a very difficult state, the “Christian sectors” maintain decent conditions for living, due to the care and work of the prisoners themselves.
“CHURCHES PROVIDE HELP AND SUPPORT”
The evangelical pastor and provincial deputy of the “Somos Vida y Familia” (We are life and family) party, Walter Ghione, explains that “in the evangelical churches we create containment networks. This process of change continues outside, and when they leave prison they can have a prosperous life, healthier relationships, a sense of belonging with new contacts and they even are able to enter the work market”.
“About 90% of the prison population is poor, coming from the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the province. We work there, providing support and helping to overcome and cope with illnesses, and also the recovery of addictions”, he adds.
MORE “EVANGELICAL SECTORS” IN PRISON
Ghione asks for more “evangelical sectors” in the penitentiary system of the province of Santa Fe, because of the exemplary conduct and the cordial model of coexistence they demonstrate. He also calls for a better communication with prison authorities.
Evangelical Christianity is growing in this Argenitnian province, especially in the cities of Santa Fe and Rosario.