Maximum Security Inmates Turned Into Knitters

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A Program In A Brazilian Prison Helps Male Prisoners Reduce Their Sentences By Knitting For Project Lotus Flower

Arisvaldo de Campos Pires is a maximum security Brazilian prison. Here hardened criminals are involved in one of the most peaceful pastimes ever: knitting.

When the fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes thought about involving inmates into one of her projects, she thought about female prisoners. However, the prison administration had other ideas, and male inmates were involved instead.

Despite the unusual choice, the program has proved so far to be a great success. Male inmates are eager to be part of the project in exchange for a great incentive.

Every three days spent knitting earns them one day off their original sentences and that is what motivates them. They are also paid a salary. However, the financial compensation is rather meager.

The inmates are paid three quarters of the minimum wage. The prison keeps part of the money and let the inmates have it when they are released.

The fashion designer had no idea male inmates, especially in a maximum security prison, can be so dependable workers. Guimaraes has opened new stores not only in Brazil, but also on an international scale, in US, France and Japan.

The program, entitled the Lotus Flower, has a positive impact on the psyche of inmates.

“The program gives inmates skills and confidence they can use when they return to life on the outside,” says Celio Tavares, one of those who benefited from the project.

By learning how to knit, inmates are learning life skills that might help them get a job, once they are out.

18 people are currently involved with the program and are knitting for the creations of the fashion designer. The total number of those who have worked on the program is over 100. This crowns the success of the Lotus Flower.


Image: Reuters

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