SEOUL – A Protestant group has opened the first privately run prison in South Korea.

The Somang (Hope) Prison in Yeoju, some 30 km east of Seoul, opened its doors on Dec. 1 with 30 prisoners. It is operated by the Agape Foundation.

Agape chairperson Rev Kim Sam-hwan said the prison would aim to decrease “the re-incarceration rate of former prisoners to 3 percent”.

The present rate is 22.4 percent, according to figures provided by the foundation.

Local Protestant Churches have been lobbying since 1995 for the establishment of a private prison. The South Korean National Assembly passed a law authorizing their creation in 1999.

The Somang prison will offer various programs including a personal consultation program manned by 600 volunteers, a healing program based on Bible study, a reconciliation program between perpetrators and victims, and a therapy program with music and art.
Addressing a concern over proselytism, Reverend Kim said the prison was not established “just to increase the number of Protestants”. He added that the prison will only accept prisoners who wish to be reformed through the offered programs.

The prison, which can accommodate up to 360 prisoners, will receive male prisoners aged between 20 and 60 years.  UCANEWS.COM

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