There, he invoked the parable of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles, and encouraged the group of prisoners to get their lives back on track. Pope Francis then walked through the gym at Philadelphia's largest jail and shook the hands of each of the men and women individually.
The 100 inmates in blue uniforms remained in their seats Sunday until two stood up near the end to hug Francis. He also blessed an inmate in a wheelchair.
Francis thanked the inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility for the large wooden chair that they made for him, calling it beautiful.
He has criticized prison systems that only work to punish and humiliate prisoners, and he has denounced life prison terms and isolation as a form of torture.
Earlier, Francis met victims of clergy sex abuse and vowed to hold responsible all involved in abuse and cover-ups. A Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis met with five victims of sexual abuse: people who were victims of priests, relatives and teachers.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi says the three women and two men met with the pope for a half hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday, the pope's last day in the U.S.
Lombardi says the pope prayed with the survivors, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness in their suffering and his "pain and shame" in the case of those abused by priests.
"God weeps for sexual abuse of children," the 78-year-old pontiff told bishops at a seminary. He called for stronger "oversight to ensure that youth are protected and ... all responsible will be held accountable."
Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who heads Francis' sex abuse commission, organized the encounter along with the Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.
Speaking to U.S. bishops, Francis said sexual abuse can no longer be kept a secret. He says he promised to "zealously" protect young people and that "all those responsible are held accountable."
Francis has decided to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock by covering up for pedophile priests rather than reporting them to police.
Reports that priests had sexually abused children and bishops had covered up their actions emerged in 2002, growing into a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.
Victims' groups say the church has not done enough. As many as 100,000 U.S. children may have been the victims of clerical sex abuse, insurance experts said in a paper presented at a Vatican conference in 2012.
Al Jazeera and wire services