The Pope Is On His Way To A Philly Prison, And There Will Be A Surprise Waiting

A little artwork can go a long way.

When Pope Francis arrives at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC), he'll have a custom chair waiting for him. Thanks to the prisoners.

For nearly four weeks, a group of a dozen inmates have been working on the six-foot-tall chair in the prison's carpentry shop. Along with the chair, they will be giving the pope a basket of fruit and an engraved plaque.  

"At first I thought it was a little strange, honestly, like, why's he coming to a prison?" Evan Davis, 26, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "But then you realize, he's coming to the prison basically to show people everybody in jail is not a criminal. And we need hope now just as much as anybody."

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the prison on September 27th, and when he does he will be meeting with 100 inmates from all over the Philadelphia Prison System. The walnut chair was completed through the PHILACOR program, a carpentry shop designed to "provide real-life work and skills to help inmates prepare for employment after their release." 

But it's how the prisoners are reacting to the opportunity that is most impressive.

Positivity, work and attention from someone as reputable as the pope can go a long way for men and women behind bars. Look no further than those dozen inmates who got to help on this project.

"It made me honored because I'm one of the ones that work hard, and they noticed."

Rameen Perrin, who has spent 13 months behind bars for drug charges, told the Associated Press.

"I built a chair for the pope; being in here, I never thought I'd have an opportunity like this. It's something I can share with my kids," Jermaine Coston told Philly.com.

"We hope when people see this chair they will see the type of work we do. And they can do the same type of work outside - if someone will give them a job."

Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center Warden Karen Bryant said to Philly.com.

"I hope he sits in it and I hope he knows we put a lot of work in it. And I hope he knows we did it as a team and and we did it on behalf of the city of Philadelphia."

45-year-old inmate Michael Green of Chester County told The Daily News.

Check out the local news report about the visit: