Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jail that Makes Sense and Most Amazing of All ... it's Cook County, Chicago

Inmate Jonathan Scott, right, works in the kitchen at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. Inmates in the jail's medium-security Division 11 are now allowed to order pizzas made by inmates like Scott, who is participating in the jail's "Recipe for Change" program while he waits for trial after his 2015 arrest on an armed robbery charge in Chicago. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Penn Live: Inmates make, sell gourmet pizza inside jail

Inmates in the jail's medium-security Division 11 can now order pizzas made with the finest ingredients in the kind of ovens found in pizzerias. It's all part of Sheriff Tom Dart's ongoing effort to make jail a bit more humane while providing inmates skills that might help keep them from returning once they're set free.

- PL

The plan is inspired, humane, and it costs peanuts.

But it's safe to say Dart is the first jail administrator to bring into his facility an Italian chef to oversee an operation in which inmates bake a couple hundred pizzas a week in a $16,000 oven and deliver them piping hot to the cells of captive customers.

"We're teaching skills to make them more marketable when they get out of here," Dart said.

- PL

When some kid starts out as a gangbanger, likely his education is weak and his skill nearly non-existent except for selling crack and shooting people.  The Rockhouse strongly supports this plan and it only cost sixteen grand for the oven.

The pizza delivery service is an outgrowth of a program called "Recipe for Change" that's run by Bruno Abate, a chef and owner of trendy Chicago restaurant Tocco, that teaches inmates about cooking and nutrition. Abate said there's no overstating the effect gourmet pizza has in a place where the drab food only reminds inmates of where -- and what -- they are.

"This is treating people with dignity and respect as a human and not (an) animal," he said.

The pizza also might be the best food some of the desperately poor inmates have ever eaten.

- PL

Humanity ... in the Cook County jail system.  Who would have predicted that.

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