Prison economy, so the inmates are given an opportunity

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Physiotherapist for years, for work he crosses the gates of the Regina Coeli prison and, despite his initial reticence, he discovers a world full of people with great potential. This is what happened to Paolo Strano who, crossing the bars of prejudice, embarked on an unexpected path: in 2013, in Rome, he set up the association Seeds of freedom to professionalize prisoners and send them to work.
To give a concrete chance of work inclusion and to combat relapses he then founded Worth it, a micro craft brewery that has been so successful that it has even created a pub of the same name that it employs inmates and former inmates. Right here, for a volunteer experience, he came Oscar La Rosa, a student of political science at Luiss, who graduated with a thesis on the impact ofprison economics. Between Paolo and Oscar there was an immediate sharing of values ​​and objectives, so much so that, in 2018, they organized the first National Prison Economy Festival per promote collaboration between cooperatives and companies that invest in prisons by hiring people in criminal execution.
“On that occasion we perceived that many realities were too fragmented and weak to face the difficulties linked to bureaucracy and communication. So we wanted to create a place, or rather a way, to offer the products made by the detainees the right competitive and market context “says Paolo, recounting the birth of Prison Economics, a project that brings together all the active experiences in the creation of laboratories and business simulators with subjects placed in prison.

Although prison work is a strategic lever for social inclusion, as at 31 December 2019 only about 30% of the prison population was employed in work activities. But, fortunately, productive excellence also develops in prison, as the thirteen companies that are part of the Prison Economy circuit attest. “In these two years we have participated in food fairs to scout, we have visited numerous cooperatives and associations to get to know them personally and certify their social commitment” adds Oscar, focusing on the importance of teaming up to present oneself to the market in a united and compact way, sharing the same values. The realities of prison economics involve many inmates who, with passion and commitment, especially produce high quality food products, such as Pasta Ucciardone in the prison of Palermo, Caffè Galeotto in Rebibbia, bread and bakery products from Farina in the bag of the Turin prison. The inmates of the Pozzuoli prison who produce the Lazzarelle coffee and the boys of the juvenile penal institution of Palermo with theirs Baked biscuits in fragrance. Detention in prisons thus becomes a moment of acquiring new skills useful for ensuring, at the end of the sentence, a dignified and productive life, considerably lowering the risk of recidivism. «It is very important to create a bridge between inside and outside: thanks to art. 21 of the penitentiary system, subjects in criminal execution, having reached a certain point of the sentence with good conduct, can carry out training and work activities outside “continues Paolo explaining that, even if the prisoners are still in prison, in this way they prepare them for reception in the civilized world.
Overcoming the restrictions dictated by the pandemic, it was also launched the e-commerce of Prison Economics to expand the distribution and sale of prison products, encouraging the creation of new jobs and the birth of new projects that contribute to the growth of the country with a virtuous and supportive business. The commitment of Paolo and Oscar, in fact, is unstoppable: Seeds of freedom it is now a planning hub that creates small social startups, such as the Prison Economy. The latest addition is the social cooperative Run, with which they promote textile projects, such as handmade Capri sandals On the loose, produced by two inmates, a screen printing workshop to make T-shirts and another for leather goods Row straight with inmates creating bags, belts and accessories.
“Through Prison Economics we are able to tell the penitentiary environment to people very distant from this stigmatized world, through the testimony of the stories that embellish every single product” conclude Paolo and Oscar, proud to lead so many inmates on the right path, strewn with legality.

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