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Reverend Hale is visiting the prison and advising the condemned to confess to witchcraft. He is doing this because he is now convinced, after the testimony against Abigail and the accusation of John Proctor, that the people accused of witchcraft are really innocent.
He also knows that under the rules of the court and the way the trials are being held, that anyone who is accused is found guilty and that there is really no way anyone can defend him or herself. So trying to prove innocence is really not an option.
Therefore, he pleads with the condemned to confess, even though they are innocent. He knows this is the only way they can survive, since confessed witches only serve prison sentences and are not hanged.
I think Hale is trying to assuage his own guilt for the part he played in convicting many of the condemned. He is trying to save their lives as a way of atoning for his initial disbelief of their innocence and for allowing himself to be manipulated by Abigail and the other accusers.
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