Giudecca- Womens Prison
I was only aware of there being prisons on Venice (Apart from the former famous one adjoining the Doges Palace) after seeing a sign on Giudecca, for this womens prison (There is a prison for males near the Zitelle church)
The womens prison is a former convent.
The main reasons for imprisonment for the women are drug possession, prostitution and murder (Mainly of their husbands!)
This prison recently featured on the Channel 4 series Jamie Does.... Venice, when Jamie (Oliver) visited this womens prison.
Why? well behind the prison walls is a well stocked organic vegetable garden, where as part of a forward thinking rehabilitation programme, the prisoners tend the gardens, harvest the produce, and every Thursday morning, sell the vegetables in a small market outside the prison walls on Fondamenta delle Convertite.
Another marketing idea, to provide an income for these inmates is the production of canvas bags, sold in kiosks around the city, depicting recipes for the Venetian Spritz in various designs -I'm going to look out for these on my next visit to Venice.
The toiletries range ("Santa Maria degli Angeli") at the Bauer hotels (Hotel Bauer, Bauer Il Palazzo, Bauer Casa Nova and the Bauer Palladio) are also produced by these prisoners.
Adjacent to the Redentore church on Giudecca is the Capuchin monastery,where in the pharmacy, the monks made medicines and potions.
Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the owner of Venice's Bauer hotels was inspired by this to instigate a project, whereby as part of a co-operative, Rio Terà Dei Pensieri, the prisoners could produce toiletries such as soaps, shampoo, shower gel and body lotions. These are produced in a laboratory in the prison, Supervised by a chemist and staffed by the inmates, who are taught by skilled volunteers, who share their time and expertise, to ensure that the products are of a high quality grade.. Some of these products contain plants grown in the prison garden.
The "Cooperativa Sociale Reiserimento Lavorativo", (Social Cooperative for Adjustment through Work.) at Banco No. 10, Castello 3478, sells clothing and handbags made with luxurious silks, brocades, and velvets, created by these women prisoners.
The prison also operates a laundry, where hotel linen is washed.
As well as a small income, this work provides work experience, and a reference, which in turn assists them in finding work on release into the outside world.
The next time I visit Venice, I'll certainly look out for these products, and hopefully will be there on a Thursday, so I can visit their market.