Criminal Justice Reform, Italian Style

The NY Times reports on winemaking programs in an Italian prison – Lecce Penitentiary, where inmates can learn to be sommeliers. The course is part of a program to teach prisoners new professional skills, as well as to help them develop a connection with the region, Apulia, which is known for its wine made from negroamaro grapes, the DOC Leverano Negroamaro Rosato.

There are other innovative rehabilitation programs, including  a restaurant inside a medium-security prison near Milan in which the waiters and cooks are inmates. But the sommelier class at the Lecce prison is believed to be unique in Italy.

“Of course, sommelier courses can’t be considered a treatment,” said Georgia Zara, the head of a program at the University of Turin that offers a master’s degree in criminological and forensic psychology. “But they do educate inmates and create social interaction, which is very important.”

The classes also offer a “bridge between the jail context and the world outside, so it’s a small investment to reduce the risk of recidivism,” Ms. Zara said.


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