The “Without bars” project was inaugurated today (May 4, 2019) in Andria, a farm and a pasta factory for the inclusion of prisoners.
The diocesan project “Without bars” born in 2017 is now a reality.
What was once the farm that housed the community project for the recovery of drug addicts founded by Don Gelmini, returns to new life, or rather, returns to being a social and re-educational “community”.
In the presence of numerous religious, civil and military authorities, the inauguration ceremony of the current structure was held it already hosts 12 subjects (persons in detention and / or subject to attenuated custody provision, former prisoners and / or persons whose prison path, in addition to having marked his life forever, has precluded any possibility of return and social integration), and with our project Food Stories Behind Bars we went to see the new project and to talk to the promoters of the initiative, waiting to interview the people involved in the work activities!
Promoters of the project are Don Riccardo Agresti and Don Vincenzo Giannelli while among the first supporters there is the diocese of Andria.
“This initiative intends to help people who have already had prison experience and are nearing completion or who have closed the prison experience but need to be helped to reintegrate into work”
SE stated Mons.Luigi Mansi
“Here they receive concrete help to learn an art. They learn to re-educate themselves to work and therefore have all the right cards to re-enter society ”.
Fr Riccardo Agresti says:
“The“ Senza Sbarre ”project started in December 2017. In September 2018 the semi-residential community was launched, which today sees 12 people present, some of whom return to prison in the evening. The others are obliged to stay or are under house arrest ”.
It works like this: the magistrates of the Supervisory Court and the educational area of the prison, if the possibility of an alternative measure matures, invite the representatives of the community to consider the case; if the person really wants to change their life, they offer them full availability: this makes them understand the importance of networking.
“Almost all guests arrive in the masseria in the morning, accompanied by volunteers”,
adds Don Agresti
“After the prayer, everyone at work: from cleaning the barn, to gardening work, to the care of the 7 hectares of land with an olive grove and arable fields around the farm. In addition, some entrepreneurs let us complete work started in nearby companies. The next goal is to reach about twenty guests, and already from June, through the alternative measure of residential community, to allow at least 5 or 6 of them to sleep in the farm and not in prison “.
The structure is equipped with a laboratory for the production of pasta, which is now used for the needs of the community and distributed through the parishes of Andria, but the goal and the hope is to market it with the “Free hand” brand since this month in the outlets of fair trade products, and later, to sell it in supermarkets.
The pasta factory will be a channel of autonomy to make the community independent and give work to young people who “yesterday got money easily, and now, instead, the money has to sweat it!”
Hospitality does not end with the end of the sentence:
“If a guest who has served his sentence is happy, he continues to stay in the community”.
Don Agresti continues:
“Now, however, there is a need for the community not to see these brothers of ours as if they were sentenced to death with their sentence. Behind there is always the person who varies re-educated. We can learn a lot by meeting them. “
Obviously, pure volunteering is not enough to support an ambitious project that also needs to be supported by valid professionals, such as a socio-psycho-pedagogical team, but Don Riccardo Agresti has no doubts:
“We are beggars of God: we ask the lord what he wanted him to begin. This is the only community that embraces prisoners. Of course, there are associations, but not as the San Vittore farm was conceived and structured. The State and therefore the central government employs about € 200 per day to keep a prisoner in prison while with the alternative measure, identifying projects like ours, it could halve the expenses. Moreover, we would allow the requalification of many subjects who would be better reintegrated into society ».
This is the real challenge of the project linked to the San Vittore farm:
the Government should consider the possibility of alternative measures to prison such as the “Without Bars” community project which, in addition to re-educating the subjects, would favor the real reintegration of the same in the social context and would help to reduce the current public expenditure since “keeping” a subject in prison costs more than re-educating him .
This is the challenge of this project, and of all the projects told by “Stories of food behind bars”:
to make activities and productions autonomous, to relieve on the one hand the State and citizens from the consequent taxes and on the other hand to make these people autonomous, with the value of money, work and very important dignity.