ESCAPE project meeting in Alessandria, Italy
After a short pause, the ESCAPE project team was warmly welcomed in Alessandria, Italy. The Partners from Courage Foundation, Orbi Bulgaria, Silta Valamenus, Stara Zagora Prison, Alessandria prison and la casa di Roma spent the days from 17th to 19th July gaining an insight of the local justice system.
At the San Michelle House of Detention, we observed the prison’s educational center, complete with a moving library, theater, and workshops offering courses in carpentry, art, and arithmetic. The prison also had a bakery, a self-sustained kitchen run by prisoners, and a vegetable garden. In the afternoon, we had an engaging conference with the leaders and representatives of San Michelle. Together, we discussed the prison’s commitment to providing for the well-being of its inmates, with a strong emphasis on education and integrity. We also explored strategies to reduce the chances of prisoners returning to jail.
On the second day, we journeyed to a local jail housing detainees awaiting their final sentence. After our visit, we explored a remarkable local shop entirely operated by prisoners, offering an array of products including sweets, salty treats, pasta, cheese, wine, and beer.
On the final day, we visited “Museo carcere la nuove” in Torrino, a poignant reminder of the past. This immense jail, once housing both male and female prisoners during the fascist era, has been thoughtfully preserved over time. Even after its closure, it stands as a living memory for all to witness. Inside, we witnessed the living conditions of prisoners—their clothing, accommodations, the medical room, and even the chilling execution chamber hidden underground. Heartfelt letters from former inmates adorned the walls of the execution room. At the end of the hall, a solitary light served as a solemn tribute to those who lost their lives within those walls.
n addition to our visits to the three institutions, we had an inspiring conversation with a reformed ex-convict. He shared valuable insights on the significance of transforming one’s environment after prison to avoid falling back into old habits. According to him, meaningful changes are essential for lasting transformation. Our guest warmly welcomed questions from the audience and attentively listened to the experts’ stories.
The few days we spent both in jail and in prison were a valuable resource to the objectives of the project. We gained invaluable insights into freedom, the power of choice, the influence of one’s environment, and the realities of life within prison.
The Escape project has been co-funded by the Erasmus + programme, and its main objective is to facilitate the exchange of good practices between the partner countries when it comes to professionals working for the rehabilitation of prisoners in the fields of education and employment
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