Inmates at Van prison become workshop workers

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Inmates at a low-security prison in Turkey’s eastern province Van have become textile, bakery, manufacture workers who produce underwear, evidence bags, cookies and paper coffee cups.

The products from the prison workshops are distributed to other prisons and some public institutions nationwide.

The workshops allow inmates to earn the opportunity to financially support their families and blow off steam. They will also receive certificates to allow them to set up their own businesses.

“There are 14 workshops under development or planning. This open prison has been functioning like a production plant since last year. You can see in convicts’ faces how it eases their pressure and lowers stress. The inmates are competing with one another to acquire a profession and work here,” Van Open Penitentiary Institution manager Mecit Demirci told Anadolu Agency on Feb. 11.

‘We don’t feel like prisoners’

Some 30 inmates working at the 400 square-meter textile mill will have the opportunity to find a job at the nearby factories once they serve their sentences, he added.

According to his remarks, bed linens, evidence bags, surgical gowns and underwear sets are among the products of the textile mill and the other six inmates have been producing about 3,600-4,200 paper cups in an hour.

“We will reap the benefits of the professions we have been acquiring when we are released. We don’t feel like prisoners. We come to the workshop in the morning just as if going to the office and work there until evening. I believe under these circumstances, crime rates will decrease,” one of the inmates told an Anadolu Agency reporter, expressing that this was the first time he had used a sewing machine in his life.

High profit

Meanwhile, in the Central Anatolian province of Niğde, the Open Penitentiary Institution hosting some 1,200 inmates has made an annual profit of 23,800,000 Turkish Liras.

“Our priority is to provide them a profession in order to contribute to their living,” chief public prosecutor of Niğde, Oğuzhan Dönmez told Doğan News Agency on Feb. 5.

There are 28 workshops, including ironmongery and furniture mills, within the premises of the prison, he added.

According to an annual report from the Justice Ministry’s Prison Workshops Institute, the total income of workshops in 258 institutions amounted to 3 billion liras in 2016. More than 50,000 inmate-workers reportedly earned over 30 million liras in the same year.

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