Philadelphia Prison Inmates Are Building A Special Gift For The Pope

August 26, 2015

When Pope Francis visits Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on September 27 as part of his trip to Philadelphia, he is expected to meet with 100 inmates from throughout the Philadelphia Prison System and their families.

Among their thank you gifts, about a dozen inmates in the carpentry division of PhilaCor, the prison's job-skills program, will present the pope with a 6-foot walnut chair they are building from scratch.

prison inmates build pope chair
Alejandro A. Alvarez /

Inmate Jermaine Coston, 30, said he barely knew how to use a tape measure when he entered the prison system two years ago.

"I just can't wait to get home and get a job in this field because it feels good to build something and accomplish something," he said. "There's a lot of hardship here but even in this bad situation, I learned to do good by picking up a trade."

prison inmates build pope chair
Alejandro A. Alvarez /

Inmate Michael Green who said he was in prison for "bad decisions," noted that it's not often inmates get to represent their city to a visiting dignitary.

prison inmates build pope chair
Alejandro A. Alvarez /

"I hope he sits in it and I hope he knows we put a lot of work in it," 45 year-old Michael Green said. "And I hope he knows we did it as a team and and we did it on behalf of the city of Philadelphia."


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