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Posts Tagged ‘Juiz de Fora

Knitting for luxury labels. Knitting their way to freedom, the maximum security prisoners who get a day off their sentence for every three days they work for luxury fashion label

  • Inmates at  Brazil’s Arisvaldo de Campos Pires penitentiary have been taught to knit and crochet
  • Fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes says they can “do any work”
  • The projects of the inmates for Raquel’s high-end brand Doiselles are exported to America and Japan

REBECCA SEALES published in MailOnline this August 4, 2013:

Poring over their fine-quality crochet, the prisoners of Brazil’s Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary are a model of concentration.

And it’s no wonder, when you consider what’s at stake.

Thanks to a collaboration with Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes, the inmates have one day taken off their sentence for every 3 days of knitting they perform.

A stitch in time: Prisoners knit clothing for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security jail
A stitch in time: Prisoners knit clothing for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security jail
Concentration: An inmate works on a woollen design as designer Raquel Guimaraes (left) walks past
Concentration: An inmate works on a woollen design as designer Raquel Guimaraes (left) walks past

The designer turned to the prison for help in 2009 when she had trouble finding knitters for her Doiselles label, which specialises in beautiful knitting and crochet work.

Raquel Guimaraes trained 18 prisoners sentenced for crimes ranging from robbery to murder, and their work is now exported globally, including to America, France, and Japan.

The hand-made pieces, which are strictly quality-checked, are also sold in 70 stores in Brazil.

Bleak: At first glance, Arisvaldo de Campos Pires looks like an unlikely setting for a high-fashion projectB
Bleak: At first glance, Arisvaldo de Campos Pires looks like an unlikely setting for a high-fashion project
Maximum security: Guards escort designer Raquel into the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires penitentiary
Maximum security: Guards escort designer Raquel into the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires penitentiary
Hard at work: The knitting team get down to business while the designer keeps an advisory eye on proceedings
Hard at work: The knitting team get down to business while the designer keeps an advisory eye on proceedings
Design for lifers: The woollens expert passes on her trade secrets as part of the Flor de Lotus project
Design for lifers: The woollens expert passes on her trade secrets as part of the Flor de Lotus project

Named the Flor de Lotus (‘Lotus Flower’) Project, the initiative is a chance for prisoners to earn money while serving their time.

Participating inmates are paid a starting salary of 75% of Brazil’s minimum wage. A quarter of what they earn is put aside, and paid on their release.

Former prison inmate Celio Tavares, who was jailed for armed robbery, said the project boosts prisoners’ chances of finding a job when their sentences are up.

High-end: The inmates' hand-made work is sold in around 70 stores in Brazil, as well as being exported to America and Japan
High-end: The inmates’ hand-made work is sold in around 70 stores in Brazil, as well as being exported to America and JapanMore than just a hobby: Former prison inmate Celio Tavares said the project gives prisoners confidence, and skills they can use in the outside world
More than just a hobby: Former prison inmate Celio Tavares said the project gives prisoners confidence, and skills they can use in the outside world
Guidance: Raquel has trained around 100 prisoners to knit and crochet since the initiative started in 2009
Guidance: Raquel has trained around 100 prisoners to knit and crochet since the initiative started in 2009
New tricks: The prisoners involved have been jailed for crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder
New tricks: The prisoners involved have been jailed for crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder

‘The program gives inmates skills and confidence they can use when they return to life on the outside.

‘This raises the self-esteem of the prisoners, and opens the door to work and employment for everyone else,’ he said.

The prison is located in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Rio de Janeiro.

Time well spent: The work gives the inmates something to focus their energies on - as well as netting them a day off their sentence for every three they spend knitting
Time well spent: The work gives the inmates something to focus their energies on – as well as netting them a day off their sentence for every three they spend knitting
Unearthing new talents: A prisoner draws a fashion model from a photograph
Unearthing new talents: A prisoner draws a fashion model from a photograph
Teamwork: Raquel says the inmates have proven their worth as knitters and are 'able to do any work'
Teamwork: Raquel says the inmates have proven their worth as knitters and are ‘able to do any work’

Ms Guimaraes, who works nearby, says around 100 inmates have taken up the knitting challenge since she started training them four years ago.

She sees the project as a way for prisoners to be viewed as something more than criminals, explaining:

‘The remission of the sentence gives them the value of redeeming freedom, integrity and confidence.

‘They are able to do any work and produce very well.’

Hope for the future: As well as learning a marketable skill, the inmates earn wages which will ease their release into society
Hope for the future: As well as learning a marketable skill, the inmates earn wages which will ease their release into society

Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2384376/Maximum-security-prisoners-Brazilian-jail-knitting-create-designs-high-end-fashion-label.html#ixzz2bMZskOZW
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