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Pope urges dignity, rehabilitation for prisoners

VATICAN CITY (AP) – The pope is urging prison administrators to respect the dignity and rights of criminals in their care, and to help rehabilitate them.

Pope Benedict XVI met Thursday with participants of a conference of European prison administrators and urged them to re-educate prisoners, not just punish them. He said society and prisoners themselves would benefit.

The Vatican itself has been accused of shortcomings in its detention practices. Benedict’s ex-butler Paolo Gabriele, convicted last month of stealing papal documents and leaking them to a journalist, accused Vatican police of causing him “psychological pressure” by keeping him in a tiny cell with the lights on constantly for his first 20 days of detention.

Vatican police defended their actions and said the cell conformed to international standards. But the Vatican prosecutor opened an investigation.

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