Prison panettone offers a sweet way to cut crime

2014-12-09 14:19

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Padua – White-coated bakers are chopping nuts, dipping pastry into liquid chocolate and hanging freshly baked panettone Christmas cake upside down to preserve its domed shape.

But when one of the all-male team steps outside to smoke, he is in a barred enclosure attached to Padua prison.

Sweet smells have wafted through this building since 2005, when the local Giotto cooperative opened the Pasticceria Giotto, which they say is Italy’s only bakery inside a jail.

The cooperative says the re-offending rate among prisoners who work on their projects in Padua drops to 1% to 2% from a national average they put at more than 70%.

The prisoners, serving sentences for crimes including murder, are keen to extol the psychological benefits.

“This work makes a person feel they have value, you get satisfaction from it. You develop creativity,” said Davor (49).

“When you come in here you don’t feel like you’re in prison.”

Of the 800 detainees in Padua’s Due Palazzi prison, 150 are paid to work on such projects, which also include a call centre and workshops making suitcases and bicycles.

The bakery’s signature delicacy is panettone, baked to a traditional recipe that takes 72 hours to make from a precise mixture of flour, butter, eggs and sugar that is enshrined in Italian law.

Shut off from the world, the prisoners are better able to concentrate on learning, said Elio (62), as he pitched 2kg slabs of butter into a mixing machine.

“There is less distraction. We don’t have the chance to go to a bar or chase women.”

Repeat offenders are a pressing problem for Italy, whose prisons are among Europe’s most crowded and are costly for the state budget.

Work and creative tasks are the best treatment to prevent prisoners falling back into crime, said Gemma Marotta, associate professor of criminology at Rome’s Sapienza university.

“As well as being able to leave jail having learnt a trade, it reinforces their self-esteem,” she said.

The cooperative’s president, Nicola Boscoletto, said the public response to the project was often negative in Italy, where unemployment is at a record high.

“But this is good for the pockets of Italians and for Italian security,” she said.

“Every €1 million (about R14 million) invested in rehabilitating prisoners by giving them real work, paid according to the laws of the market, saves €9 million.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.