Kolkata jail to open coffee shop managed by women inmates

Zest is aimed to be wellness conference but not with anyone sitting and listening. Instead most of it is focussed on giving women an experience of what it takes to stay up and about.

Kolkata’s Alipore Correctional Home for Women is set to open a coffee shop that will be wholly managed by female prisoners.

Though the jail authorities are hoping that, to save on operational costs, this will be a Café Coffee Day franchise, the idea of rehabilitating the prisoners so that they can earn their own living is so strong that even if the talks with the coffee shop chain fail, the jail will set up the cafe on its own, a senior Public Works Department official told The Indian Express.

The concept behind this venture is the open jails often found in western countries, where inmates jailed for minor crimes leave for work in the morning and return in the evening.

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The jail authorities also plan to open a two-room showroom of about 500 sq ft where products such as utensils, items used in the coffee shop, textiles and so on, all produced by the inmates, will be sold. Both the showroom and the coffee shop will be open to the public.

“The intention is that when they leave the prison, they can earn their livelihood,” said the official. “If this experiment proves successful, we will set up more such outlets. One of the products which I personally find very good is the mustard oil produced here.”

The women who will run the showroom and the coffee shop have already been trained in the areas they are interested in. The coffee shop will open in time for Durga Puja (Kolkata’s big annual festival) which begins on September 30, while the space for the showroom will take about a month to finalise, the official said.

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While good intentions like this one do not always work out, with a little luck and a lot of good infrastructure, this practical effort could be a brilliant way to show the women prisoners the way to financial security.

Feature image credit: ocm.com

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