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This European City’s Number One Restaurant Is Staffed Entirely By Prisoners

For the finest dining in Cardiff, go directly to jail.

image via youtube screen capture

Fans of Orange Is the New Black likely remember cringing during a particularly awkward episode of the breakout Netflix prison series, in which inmates of the fictional Litchfield penitentiary engage in a mock job fair, in order to prepare themselves for life after incarceration. It’s an episode played both for laughs, and ultimately, poignancy, as we come to understand just how out of sync the penal system’s idea of vocational training is with both the world outside the prison’s walls, and the characters within. The episode is, of course, fiction, but not necessarily that far removed from the reality seen by show creator Piper Kerman, a former inmate herself.

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This Startup is Taking On Prison’s Other Form of Isolation

Fredrick Hutson's Pigeonly helps connect the incarcerated with the outside world.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Lucy Nicholoson

Frederick Hutson was always entrepreneurial. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, he did odd jobs for neighbors, and after receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, he bought and sold a series of small businesses. When an old friend told Hutson about a marijuana smuggling business he was involved with, Hutson thought he saw a smarter way of running the operation. As he told The New York Times, it seemed like a way to make enough to start a few legitimate companies. He shipped the drugs through his Las Vegas mail store using DHL, UPS, and FedEx—netting upwards of $500,000 a year—until 10 Drug Enforcement Agency officers showed up with guns drawn. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Hutson was 24.

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When he was 16, Aaron Malloy was arrested for robbery and sentenced to eight years in prison. After being released, he managed to get both an economics degree and an MBA—but he still had trouble finding a job because of his past. Eventually, we worked together to found Isidore Recycling, where he served as our first COO, and where his background was actually an asset.

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Occupy Rikers: A Visit With an OWS Protester in Jail

I was about to say, “I'll see you soon,” but I had no idea if that was true. Instead, I just repeated, “I'll see you.”


To get to Rikers Island from my house, you take the B62 bus north and transfer to the Q100, helpfully labeled “To Rikers Island.” It seems odd that a normal city bus takes you to the world’s largest penal colony. The place seems so distant, ethereal. How could you just pay $2.25 and arrive to such a hellish place—an island—only 30 minutes later?

I was going to Rikers to see Ellis (aka Robert Nilon, aka Comrade El), who at that point had been in prison for about three weeks. Ellis and I had worked together on a few episodes of OWS Radio on WBAI, a community-supported radio station based in lower Manhattan. Even though we weren't very close, I figured he'd appreciate some company after being locked up for weeks.

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The Sustainable Prisons Project: Connecting Inmates with Nature

Beekeeping and composting aren't just for hippies and treehuggers anymore; they're also for felons.

Beekeeping and composting aren't just for hippies and treehuggers anymore; they're also for felons.

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