In a turnabout from the Soviet era when believers were often imprisoned for their faith, Russia is now hoping religion will help with its crowded, underfunded prison system.
Aleksandr Reimer, director of Russia's Federal Correctional Service, told the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta that officials were "building churches, mosques and synagogues [in prisons]" and a pact with Buddhists was in the works.
"Neither representatives of confessions, nor we today, have the goal of forcing everyone to go to church," Reimer said. "If an inmate has come to faith, we think that it could stop him from committing a crime in the future."
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