Any issues surrounding prisons will come up with a variety of perspectives, with some proponents stating it's a place for punishment and deterrence, while others claim it's a facility for reform and rehabilitation. Obviously, the folks at Good B*****s Baking lean towards the latter.
The cleverly-named Prison Bake is a partnership between the charity baking collective of more than 1,000 volunteers and New Zealand's Rimutaka Prison. For the past two years, the charity visits the inmates to teach them how to bake. The education process doubles as a way to make food which Good B*****s packages up takes and distributes to needy families across the country.
"It's been beyond our wildest dreams with the reception that we've had," said Nicole Murray, a co-founder of Good B*****s Baking, on Radio New Zealand. "They've latched onto the idea that it feels good to do good unto others."
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The Facebook page that's dedicated to the prison program already has more than 17,000 followers and is chock full of events and high praise from those who've sampled the food. Incarcerated chefs are getting thumbs-up approval from the food that's been served at The Prison Gate To Plate Popup events, which also benefits a number of charities.
Part of the idea is that inmates develop more empathy towards a society that's making them pay a debt through confinement, while recipients of the food also recognize the charity trying to ease their burdens during lean periods.
Good B*****s Baking may be making a difference in the South Pacific country, but it's not the first time an initiative of this sort has been launched. Back in 2012, high-end celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay launched a program called Bad Boys' Bakery in London's Brixton Prison. It was the premise for a TV show called Gordon Behind Bars. In the facility, inmates prepared food and menu items for such restaurants in the area as Caffe Nero and Roast.
An offshoot of Bad Boys' Baking was launched in a prison in Italy with hopes that inmates taking part in the initiative would develop enough culinary skills that their self-esteem would also grow to the point where they won't re-offend and face another period of incarceration. So far, officials have noticed a drop of around two percent of participants reoffending since the program started. Rates are often as high as 70 percent, which adds to the strain of overcrowding in Italian prisons.