Macalle. The Perfect Prison

A model of jail enterprise, here prisoners sell fruit and fabrics, build houses and manage beauty centres

There’s a special prison in Ethiopia from which inmates don’t want to escape because it teaches them a profession and it’s a perfect model of prison enterprise. In the Macalle jail prisoners sell fruit and fabrics, build houses, bake bread, manage beauty centres and food stores. All this through cooperatives that have direct commercial relations with the outside. The project, created by ILO (International Labour Organization) and initially financed by the Italian Development Cooperation, is self-financed thanks to microcredit, and a bank has even opened a branch in the prison. In the past, relatives used to send money to the prisoners, while now the latter support their families. Former prisoners find a job quite easily or in many cases they continue to work in the prison cooperative, which often becomes a second family for them.