Jail prayers

I know you might be scratching your head as to how this whole prison topic goes with Guatemalan Genes. 

First let me say that even though at many times (now is one of them) I feel like God is making no sense, by faith or probably more so by hope somehow I cling to his promise “Everything, that is all things that appear good and appear bad, will become known to you in My timing that they were all indeed good for those who love Me and that I have called to Myself, according to my plan, which is the bearing of His likeness in those whom I knew from the beginning.” Romans 8.28-29

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to write my CV focusing on my service interest and I was shocked to discover how there was a conductive thread on at risk youth and rehabilitation of offenders, starting with our graduating High School project which I proposed: “Correctional facilities in Guatemala”. Now, sadly, the issue is closer to home than I would ever imagine and has led me to make more conscientious life and career choices to work on how to better the success rates of offenders re-entry to society. I cannot do much in the US, where I am finding out the system is light years from being successful and has no serious attempt to provide with rehabilitation, reentry programs and where the few services are outsourced to people just interested in collecting the service fee. On the other hand I am in a position to influence change in Guatemala.

In Guatemala the whole penitentiary system is a shame and re-entry programs are basically non existent. As the whole world knows Guatemala’s crime rate and impunity situation is only worsen by the fact that jails and prison have become “universities of crime”. 

Today, Christmas,  may I ask for you to say  this prayer



Dear Lord, you have always shown yourself as friend of the small ones, the poor and the excluded to the point that you had wanted to go through the experience of being incarcerate: you were denounced, detained and imprisoned in the darkness of the night, led to prison and sent to questioning, insults, tortures, judged with no legal process, condemned and executed (as many through out history and still today).

Your love has taken you to identify yourself with them and to remain present in them: I was in prison and you came to visit me. At this puzzling sign we dare to ask you for all of todays inmates so that they:Don’t think that because society condemns them, you reject them.Don’t renounce for a moment to their dignity as people and children of God.Don’t ever loose their liberty within.Don’t despair nor fall to depression.Don’t give up on fighting against any type of oppression, repression or injustice.Be eager to change their conduct.Work for their life and re-entry.Don’t abandon their families and friends, nor be abandon by them.Get close to you and their situation inspires them to along with you be saviors of the world.We also want to ask for us, society and the Church so thatWe don’t reject inmates for the sake of their situation.We respect them as the people they are.We see you in them and serve them accordingly.We accompany and help them in their reentry process.Our love may, in fact, help them discover who YOU are. AMEN


Señor Jesús, Tú siempre te mostraste amigo de los pequeños, de los pobres y de los excluidos: hasta el punto de querer pasar por la experiencia del preso: fuiste denunciado, detenido y apresado en la oscuridad de la noche, conducido a la cárcel y sometido a interrogatorios, insultos, burlas, malos tratos y torturas, juzgado sin las debidas garantías, condenado y ejecutado (como muchos a lo largo de la historia y también hoy).

Tu amor te llevó a identificarte con ellos y a permanecer presente en ellos: estuve en la cárcel y viniste a verme. Ante este gesto tan desconcertante nos atrevemos a pedirte por las presas y presos de hoy para que:

•No piensen que porque la sociedad los condena, Tú los rechazas.

•No renuncien ni un solo momento a su dignidad de personas e hijos de Dios.

•No pierdan nunca su libertad interior.

•No se desesperen ni caigan en depresión.

•No renuncien a esforzarse contra todo tipo de opresión, represión e injusticia.

•Se afanen en cambiar de conducta.

•Hagan por su vida y por su reinserción.

•No abandonen a sus familias y amigos, ni sean abandonados por ellos.

•Su situación los acerque más a Ti y sean cosalvadores del mundo.

También queremos pedirte por nosotros, la sociedad y la Iglesia para que:

•No rechacen a las presas y presos por el hecho de serlo.

•Les respetemos como personas que son.

•Te veamos y sirvamos a Ti en ellos.

•Los acojamos con cariño y comprensión cuando recobren la libertad.

•Les acompañemos y ayudemos a reinsertarse.

•Nuestro amor, en definitiva, les ayude a descubrir que Tú les quieres.

Te lo pedimos por María, tu Madre y nuestra Madre.


Book suggestions:

Jóvenes en la cárcel


Hours after the news of his death by hanging broke, Mohammed Afzal Guru’s lawyers Nandita Haksar and N.D. Pancholi made their way to the Tihar Jail here, carrying with them a letter from his family seeking permission to say a prayer at his grave. Guru, who was convicted for the December 2001 attack on Parliament, was hanged and buried inside the heavily fortified Tihar Jail on Saturday morning.

“The family called us in the morning; they said they were not informed of the hanging. They have now requested the authorities to at least allow them to perform namaz-e-janaza and the last rites as per their faith,” Ms. Haksar told The Hindu.

The letter, addressed to Director-General of Prisons Vimla Mehra, says the “family members have been shocked to hear the news of the hanging on national television.” The last time the death warrant was issued by Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur, Mr. Pancholi was informed so that he could in turn pass on the message to the family. “This time they were denied the basic human right of meeting Afzal,” says the letter.

Ms. Haksar said the Guru family, residing in Kashmir, was not being allowed to move out of the house, nor were mourners allowed in. In Kashmir too, the Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din raised a demand for handing over the body to the family and allowing it to perform the last rites.

“It is a sad day, Afzal was more wronged. He was not a fundamentalist or Jamati. He rejected Pakistan and returned from there disillusioned. But no one wants to hear that,” she said.

Slamming the calls for “celebration,” Ms. Haksar said it was ironic that, on the one hand, “right-wing” politicians claimed that Kashmir was an integral part of India and, on the other, they were calling for celebrating the execution when Kashmir was in “mourning.”

“No one wants to know Afzal’s story, no one wants to question why Parliament was attacked in the first place,” she said, adding the hanging would have an impact on Guru’s teenage son and the people in Kashmir.


Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, described Guru’s hanging as “regressive” and questioned the efficacy of the death penalty.

“Death penalty should be abolished as it is inhuman and irreversible. Is this how the Indian state wants to show that it isn’t a ‘soft state’? Most people in India today feel insecure; people step out of their houses not knowing if they will return; it is more important that the state makes them feel secure. Punishment is not the step to make people feel secure and a state that cannot protect its citizens is a soft state,” Ms. Ganguly said.

While human rights activists condemned the hanging of Guru and the way it was carried out in secrecy, Radha Kumar, one of the interlocutors on J&K appointed by the Centre, cautioned that it would impact the peace process in the State negatively.

“In the past year and a half there has been a vacuum in the peace process and this will have a bad effect on it. Protests have already begun in Kashmir.”

Professor Kumar said she had heard people complain, during her interaction in the Valley, that the justice system was in disrepair. “In the Valley, many feel that people here get partial justice; I hope that this hanging is not perceived in that context. It has little to do with Kashmir and Kashmiris.”

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