Needlework Brings Hope Back in Tremembé Women's Prison

Project aims to give an income to inmates after they leave jail

Filipe Oliveira
São Paulo

In a room in Ward 2 of the Tremembé Correction Facility for Women, in upstate São Paulo, 32 inmates are making bedspreads, bags, cushions, wallets, and placemats, using embroidery, sewing and crochet since last June.

They don't do it just to make time pass by faster or earn time off their sentences. Also, they are not earning any salaries, which are offered by companies who offer jobs in the facility.

Their plan is that the eight hours they spend daily among needles, thread, and fabric will be recompensed when their wares will be put on the market.

Inmates Flávia and Tânia with their production - Folhapress

The sale will be made through an inmate cooperative, supervised by the nonprofit Humanitas360. One of Humanitas360's missions is to improve quality of life in the Latin American prison system.

The next step is to speed up production, so the first items can be auctioned in October. Following that, more products will be featured in Christmas markets. For a bedspread, the initial bid will be R$ 2,000 (US$ 480).

As it would happen in a business, part of the revenue will be reinvested in the project, and part will be distributed among the partners.

"With every stitch, I sew a new story for myself. I'm ready to be outside and be happy, by making money off honest work. My son will see that his mother has made mistakes, but she has changed," says Tânia Rodrigues Correa, 35.

She is has been in the Tremembé facility for the last 3.5 years, serving a sentence for drug trafficking. She expects to leave jail next year.

Humanitas360 plans to rent a space in the town of Tremembé so that members can continue working in the initiative, after serving their sentences. 

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

Read the article in the original language