IntegrArte: Freedom Workshop

IntegrArte: Freedom Workshop

It may be the first time ever within a prison, that persons deprived of their freedom have an opportunity to grow, learn and be part of a large project. IntegrArte is a project that will connect them with the society, with the people who are out of prisons and who will be able to understand that behind every piece that they buy and enjoy, there is a human being with a story to tell.

María Luisa Romero, Minister of Government

CONTEXT

Behind prison walls, there is a huge human potential; people with their hands and talent can create and build a new reality. This is the way the first penitentiary brand was created in Panama. It supports the best products (clothing, accessories, furniture, etc.) produced by women inmates in several prison's workshops and contributes to their reinsertion. The project is an initiative of the "Security Cooperation in Panama" programme implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean with the financial support of the European Union.

OBJECTIVES

  • Contributing to the resocialisation of incarcerated persons and providing their reinsertion to society when they are released.

RESULTS

  • Strengthened and modernised the capacity of prison management to facilitate the reinsertion of incarcerated persons from a Human Rights perspective.
  • New perspectives of socio-professional reinsertion of persons deprived of their freedom have been offered through the development and marketing of handcrafted products produced within prisons in Panama.
  • Workshops have been implemented in four prisons in Panama (Cecilia Chiari Orillac women's centre and the penitentiary centres of Tinajitas, David and Joya).
  • The Ministry of Government has registered the first penitentiary commercial brand of Panama.
  • By working, the women inmates regain their self-esteem, can reduce their sentence and receive small financial contributions to create a capital savings for when they are released.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 81 % of women inmates in Panama declared being mothers.
  • 65 % of women in detention have been convicted of drug trafficking or related offences.
  • More than 100 women work in the workshop of the Cecilia Chiari Orillac women's penitentiary centre.
  • 1 woman inmate has already been released and works in the public administration of Panama.

PARTNERS

TESTIMONY

Target Grajales, inmate in Cecilia Chiari Orillac women's penitentiary centre, works as a designer at the freedom workshop

"When I have first heard about the project, it immediately drew my attention. I experienced a feeling of fear when they explained to me the seriousness and the commitment that a penitentiary brand implies. Over time, I realized that it was a challenge and a chance to accomplish something great. The penitentiary centre is my house and I am glad to see that even if people are deprived of their liberty, opportunities exist. IntegrArte was the opportunity to show us that as inmates we have a lot to give. When I leave, I will not feel sad but I will feel happy to know that we made something big out of small pieces. Everything that is made here is made with love, we therefore called the initiative "Freedom Workshop" because we are free to choose if we want to be part of the project and the persons who are supervising us treat us with respect.

"Be free and leave us feel free is precisely what gives us the capacity to work in harmony, create, produce and move forward. The working group has been an example, it shows us that despite that it combines different people with different characters; we are forming a beautiful family. The workshop is a space of dialogue and interaction where women listen and understand each other. That is the reason why each product is special because they are made with love. When I was in the street, I was doing anything relating to art. Even with my daughters, I did not have time  but I feel like I have liked art my whole life. Now that I have all the time in the world, I am focusing on designing and creating and it makes me happy. IntergrArte taught us that we all have a talent."