The prisoner who is being pardoned and will take part in the Jesús El Rico Easter procession in Malaga next Wednesday has been named as José C, who was sentenced to two years in jail in June 2020 for an offence against public health. Upon being given the news of his early release he said he was “very grateful for this chance”, which he had not expected, and he and his family are overjoyed at the news.
The tradition of giving a prisoner a second chance dates back to 1759, during an epidemic during the reign of Carlos III. The Easter processions had to be cancelled for fear of contagion but some prisoners broke out of jail and carried the image of Jesús Nazareno through the streets to pray for salvation from the plague. However, instead of running away afterwards, they went back to the prison voluntarily. In response, the king gave the religious brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús El Rico the right to release a prisoner every year.
The prisoner is selected very carefully by the judiciary and the prison authorities, and the condition of their release is that they must not reoffend during the following two years.
Last year, instead of one prisoner being released, there were three - two men and a woman - because the Easter processions had been suspended due to the pandemic.