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‘Jail bread’ could have niche market: Rattenbury

By Charlotte Harper - 18 January 2016 17

Alexander Maconochie Centre
Canberrans could be buying “jail bread” baked at the Alexander Maconochie Centre once a new industry program providing 50 new full-time jobs for prison inmates at the Hume facility gets off the ground.

ACT Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury flagged the possibility of the bread being sold in Canberra retail outlets while announcing the new industry program, which will see 50 inmates working full-time in a new bakery and expanded laundry at the prison from 2017.

Mr Rattenbury said some $7 million of the $9 million cost of building the facilities will come from savings made on another project at the prison – the current expansion of accommodation at the Alexander Maconochie Centre is ahead of schedule and substantially under budget.

“That project has produced a $7 million saving from the original cost estimate of $54 million as a result of close collaboration between Corrective Services and the project manager,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The minister took a proposal to cabinet to use the savings to build the prison industry facility after being impressed by a similar program he saw in action during a visit to Long Bay Jail in Sydney in 2014.

“Meeting some of the prisoners who were involved in the jobs there, they had a real sense of pride, a real sense of purpose in the work they were doing,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“At the same time they were gaining skills they could use on the outside once they were released from custody, to help them rebuild their lives.”

While there was some employment inside the prison already, it was limited, consisting of work in a range of services within the jail and its grounds.

“We’re very keen to make sure that the detainees here have those same opportunities, to give them a sense of purpose, and greater structure in their day, and also to enable them to build those skills and self-confidence that can assist them in their rehabilitation process,” the Minister said.

With 424 inmates at the Alexander Maconochie Centre at present, there is a large pool of potential workers in the industry program.

Mr Rattenbury said the program would complement existing education opportunities.

“We do have the best rate of detainee education in Australia, we have the highest participation in education programs, but that’s not suitable for everybody, and it doesn’t provide all the skills that some detainees need,” he said.

While the bakery would initially focus on producing baked goods for the prison itself, this could change over time.

“Longer term one might consider the possibility of perhaps exporting them out into the commercial arena,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“I’d really love to see the day where jail bread is making it out into the market in Canberra and people can see that our prisoners are doing great work.

“I think it’d have a real niche market, there’d be a certain something about bread that was coming from the jail.”

The costs of the industry work program not met through savings from the accommodation project would be met via off-sets and cash management within ACT Corrective Services and the Justice and Community Safety Directorate.

In 2014 the Government set aside $54 million to establish up to 142 additional beds at the prison through construction of two new accommodation buildings. The first of these buildings came online in September 2015 and construction of the second facility is planned to come online by mid-2016 with construction for the industry program potentially complete by the end of the year.

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17 Responses to
‘Jail bread’ could have niche market: Rattenbury
dungfungus 3:58 pm 20 Jan 16

I can see the headlines:
“Police raid bakery at AMC – bags containing suspicious white powder and poppy seeds discovered”.

Firstservingman said :

dungfungus said :

I am not prepared underwrite this government anymore.

See you later then!
You live here, you have no choice but to pay your way. 🙂

I am working on it, don’t worry.

Firstservingman 11:29 am 20 Jan 16

dungfungus said :

I am not prepared underwrite this government anymore.

See you later then!
You live here, you have no choice but to pay your way. 🙂

pajs 9:37 am 20 Jan 16

So much lazy, reflex negativity here. Nothing particularly strange or new about the concept. Decades of doing prison bakeries in Italy and the UK, for sales through various outlets. Seems like a sensible bit of training and skills development to me, and helpful for an industry that can find it hard to recruit staff.

Grimm 9:14 am 20 Jan 16

HenryBG said :

miz said :

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance.

Actually, it is hugely unlikely that anybody would find themselves in the AMC unless they had been given at least 8 chances already.

Today’s paper contains a story about a bloke whose appalling driving resulted in the death of another person and who was given a non-custodial sentence as they had no other criminal record.

Well at least somebody here realises this.
The people locked up in AMC are absolutely not people who have “made one mistake”. They are habitual criminals, only finally locked up after a minimum of a half dozen appearances in front of limp wristed judges who buy their hard luck stories and give them a slap on the wrist.

This money could be MUCH better spent on other things, that benefit actual productive members of society.

No_Nose 8:25 am 20 Jan 16

Rattenbury: “I think it’d have a real niche market, there’d be a certain something about bread that was coming from the jail.”

Would that ‘certain something’ be hepatitis?

I think if it is being commercially supplied, any business using it should have a big ‘advisory’ sign on their menus warning customers of the fact.

dungfungus 7:29 am 20 Jan 16

Ian said :

ACT Government operating a commercial enterprise. That’s always worked fantastically well!

The media should ask Rattenbury would he be prepared to fund it with his own money because as a ratepayer who underwrites all these crazy thought bubbles I am not prepared underwrite this government anymore.

miz 8:20 pm 19 Jan 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

miz said :

I think prison industries are a great idea. Some prisons in Australia are involved in textiles (e.g. making blinds), some do furniture making, some have farms – the scope is unlimited. For example, there is loads of land adjacent AMC that would easily convert to market gardens or a plant nursery.

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance. Industries give them an incentive to behave well so they can earn a reduced classification. They can then obtain TAFE qualifications and skills and keep busy in a very boring environment. The businesses involved get low cost labour while doing their altruistic bit – a bit like an apprenticeship.

So it’s win-win. And when the prisoner is released, he has marketable skills.
Busy, employed people have less time and inclination to commit crime.
Not sure if bread is a goer though – everyone is low carb these days!

Instead of giving inmates a second chance, how about spending the money on giving the public these jobs so they don’t have to turn to crime in the first place. There is no point in training detainees when the outside has no employment for the once they’ve done their time. I am appalled at how much of a normal lifestyle is given to people who should be spending their time with limited conveniences so that they end up hating the confines of jail and never want to go back. More luxuries are afforded the perpetrators than their victims, the prison experience more like that of a holiday camp. 4 walls and 3 meals a day for the entire incarceration in my mind would dissuade reoffending, but the sympathizers of this world feel that pandering to their every need is justified. Rubbish. Making prison time “endurable” will not prevent future offenses because they know it’ll be easier on the inside. Hard labor instead of internet, TV and a steady job. Why make prison appealing when life on the outside can be difficult enough?

I can see where you are coming from, but there are few prisoners per head of population so t’s unlikely to affect employment. Often people who end up in gaol are not seeking ‘gainful employment’ before they are convicted and gaoled, but come to realise its benefits once inside. The AMC has a bad recidivism rate which only work and rehabilitation can help. Boredom ‘inside’ just gives people time to plan their next job better ‘outside’.
The key is going to be making sure there are enough places that enough prisoners can get a place. It won’t be much chop if you can only get a place if you are sentenced to a lengthy stint. Those with shorter sentences need to have opportunities too. It would also really help if prisoners did not spend so long on remand, where they cannot do any programs etc because they are technically ‘innocent’).
Mr Rattenbury you have a LOT to fix!

HenryBG 3:24 pm 19 Jan 16

miz said :

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance.

Actually, it is hugely unlikely that anybody would find themselves in the AMC unless they had been given at least 8 chances already.

Today’s paper contains a story about a bloke whose appalling driving resulted in the death of another person and who was given a non-custodial sentence as they had no other criminal record.

Ian 12:42 pm 19 Jan 16

ACT Government operating a commercial enterprise. That’s always worked fantastically well!

Kalliste 12:37 pm 19 Jan 16

I don’t know if I would willingly buy bread made from inmates. As with the article dung provided it sounds like there is far too much opportunity for exploitation.

I’m not willing to spend $4 for a loaf of bread (this obviously depends on where they’re sold. I can imagine Coles and Woolies stocking these loaves for $1 and then their current bakers lose work) where the employee making it was paid $0.50 (for example, I assume it’ll be even less). There is also the concern of food safety with the product.How will they be tested and how do we know what we’re eating is safe? I know the point here is for rehabilitation but how do you guarantee the quality of the product you’re eating? Granted, you could probably say these things for almost anything else we eat.

As Miz mentioned I think I’d be more comfortable with other products like textiles or furniture.

rosscoact 11:22 am 19 Jan 16

miz said :

I think prison industries are a great idea. Some prisons in Australia are involved in textiles (e.g. making blinds), some do furniture making, some have farms – the scope is unlimited. For example, there is loads of land adjacent AMC that would easily convert to market gardens or a plant nursery.

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance. Industries give them an incentive to behave well so they can earn a reduced classification. They can then obtain TAFE qualifications and skills and keep busy in a very boring environment. The businesses involved get low cost labour while doing their altruistic bit – a bit like an apprenticeship.

So it’s win-win. And when the prisoner is released, he has marketable skills.
Busy, employed people have less time and inclination to commit crime.
Not sure if bread is a goer though – everyone is low carb these days!

Agreed. Prison industries have been around for as long as prisons. The idea that prisons are warehouses for criminals is an American one and while many pundits are willing to gobble up what America has to offer in all its appalling cruelty, we have a right to expect better than that.

As you correctly point out, some people make mistakes and giving them the capacity to do something with their lives benefits all of society

wildturkeycanoe 7:27 am 19 Jan 16

miz said :

I think prison industries are a great idea. Some prisons in Australia are involved in textiles (e.g. making blinds), some do furniture making, some have farms – the scope is unlimited. For example, there is loads of land adjacent AMC that would easily convert to market gardens or a plant nursery.

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance. Industries give them an incentive to behave well so they can earn a reduced classification. They can then obtain TAFE qualifications and skills and keep busy in a very boring environment. The businesses involved get low cost labour while doing their altruistic bit – a bit like an apprenticeship.

So it’s win-win. And when the prisoner is released, he has marketable skills.
Busy, employed people have less time and inclination to commit crime.
Not sure if bread is a goer though – everyone is low carb these days!

Instead of giving inmates a second chance, how about spending the money on giving the public these jobs so they don’t have to turn to crime in the first place. There is no point in training detainees when the outside has no employment for the once they’ve done their time. I am appalled at how much of a normal lifestyle is given to people who should be spending their time with limited conveniences so that they end up hating the confines of jail and never want to go back. More luxuries are afforded the perpetrators than their victims, the prison experience more like that of a holiday camp. 4 walls and 3 meals a day for the entire incarceration in my mind would dissuade reoffending, but the sympathizers of this world feel that pandering to their every need is justified. Rubbish. Making prison time “endurable” will not prevent future offenses because they know it’ll be easier on the inside. Hard labor instead of internet, TV and a steady job. Why make prison appealing when life on the outside can be difficult enough?

SunRider 10:02 pm 18 Jan 16

Nice idea if your aim is to keep prisoners busy. It is quite disappointing to see how far this prison has veered in recent years from its original focus of having prisoners engaged in rehabilitation courses on a full-time basis. Oh well, maybe big house bread will become the new freakshake?

miz 8:05 pm 18 Jan 16

I think prison industries are a great idea. Some prisons in Australia are involved in textiles (e.g. making blinds), some do furniture making, some have farms – the scope is unlimited. For example, there is loads of land adjacent AMC that would easily convert to market gardens or a plant nursery.

Prisoners, most of whom did something very stupid and regret it (especially the young ones in for drugs or assault) just need a second chance. Industries give them an incentive to behave well so they can earn a reduced classification. They can then obtain TAFE qualifications and skills and keep busy in a very boring environment. The businesses involved get low cost labour while doing their altruistic bit – a bit like an apprenticeship. So it’s win-win. And when the prisoner is released, he has marketable skills.
Busy, employed people have less time and inclination to commit crime.
Not sure if bread is a goer though – everyone is low carb these days!

dungfungus 2:46 pm 18 Jan 16

There are problems with this concept.
http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/10/02/whole-foods-market-ends-reliance-prison-labor-will-companies-follow-suit/
Maybe part of the deal the government made with Ikea is that their meatballs be made at AMC?
Personally, I wouldn’t like to taste anything made in a prison.

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