How We Work
In 2016 we built the first Carcel production base in a female prison in Peru 20 minutes from the city of Cusco. Today, 15 women work together making alpaca wool knits – many are already skilled knitters, a tradition that runs through families in Peru. In 2018 we opened a second facility in Chiang Mai’s Women’s Correctional, northern Thailand, also home to some of the world’s most beautiful silk.
Worldwide, rates of female incarceration are higher than ever. Marginalized single mothers are most at risk because of systematic gender, class and racial inequalities. The majority of crimes are nonviolent and poverty-related. In both Peru and Thailand, drug-trafficking is the main cause of female incarceration.
Inside of the prison, there are few opportunities for women to learn and develop new skills, work creatively and earn a fair income for their work. Working with incarcerated women does not address the root causes of why they are in prison in the first place, but it creates opportunities for them and their families while they are incarcerated and when released. Working within the prison system is complex, but we believe that creating new and fair standards for work as rehabilitation can have a tremendous impact for incarcerated women.
Working with an extremely vulnerable and marginalized group of people demands responsibility and accountability. Acknowledging the complexity of employment in a prison, we find it essential to be hands-on, transparent about wages and working conditions and constantly evaluate our practices.
HOW WE WORK IN PRISONS
Setting up our own production facilities within prisons, and managing these ourselves enables us to make sure that the labour rights and wages are assimilated to best practices within production sites outside of prisons. We have appointed our own production managers in our two production facilities, in Cusco, Peru, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. They are on site every day, managing everything from recruitment, training, working hours and payment to ensure that our standards are maintained and developed. Our Copenhagen based team also visits on a regular basis. We see our workspaces in Thailand and Peru as an extension of our company in Denmark.
A large part of the design process takes place together with our teams inside of the prison. And it is important to us that everyone learns all different techniques from stitching to pattern making. Our teams are exceptionally talented and committed, and function more and more as the design development studio. It is an imperative to us, that we contribute to a responsible work culture in which our employees know their rights and feel safe to speak out.
Work hours are closely regulated and restricted to a maximum of 30 hours per week to allow for other prison activities. Our employees are entitled to days off, as well as sick days. Production is stopped for national holidays, visits, and prison events. Work time is flexible in order to give room for legal processing of cases, doctors appointments and therapy. We also have courses in other areas of expertise in order to develop new skills that are useful for life after prison. So far, we have carried out courses in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, English, jewelry making and business plan development.
WHAT WE MEAN BY FAIR WAGES
We benchmark our wages against local living wages, as recommended by the International Labor organisation (ILO). A living wage, is the amount of income that is needed to cover the cost of living in a given country. Defining a living wage is complicated, as the methodology is based on the actual cost of living for a single person or a family in a given geographical area. This varies widely whether you live in the countryside or the city, and depending on the size of the family or co-dependencies you have.
The costs of living in a prison are different than on the outside. However, most of our employees have families to provide for and we, therefore, benchmark with a living wage that covers the support of families outside of prison. We monitor the local conditions and should any general changes be applied to the labor markets within the countries in which we operate, we are ready to adjust our employees’ wages accordingly.
We engage with our employees directly to get their feedback, as well as with international experts from organizations such as the ILO and the UN in order to ensure that we comply and go beyond The Convention Against Forced Labor and The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
WAGES IN PERU
*Wage Indicator Foundation
**Our team works part time. This is a full time comparison based on a 42 haour work week.