The government of Cuba has decided to pardon 3,522 prisoners ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the country, scheduled during September 19-22. The list of prisoners involved in this gesture include those above the age of 60 and below the age of 20, along with any person without a prior criminal record. Women and chronically ill individuals have also been given a priority in the pardon. The list also includes foreign prisoners whose country’s have vowed to repatriate them.

This is the second time Cuba has announced the pardon of several inmates prior to a visit from a Pope. When Pope Benedict was scheduled to visit the country in 2011, 2,991 prisoners were sanctioned their freedom. The decision will surely come as a relief to the family members of the thousands of prisoners scheduled to be released over the next 72 hours. This is also the largest prisoner release in the history of the country since the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959.

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