Article written by Michele Sergio and published in L’Espresso Napoletano of the month November 2018

Our land, Campania, is rich in churches, monasteries, cloisters, convents, basilicas. Cult buildings that have a lot to tell. One of the most interesting is certainly the Convent of Pozzuoli founded in the fifteenth century by the Friars Minor. Renovated by the Viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo after the earthquake of 1538, the building was used as a summer residence for the diocesan seminary. Here lived the last years of his life the great musician Giambattista Pergolesi until his death in 1736. Located in a strategic point of the hill, near the sea, enjoys a spectacular view of the port, Baia and Miseno. Originally conceived as a religious building and later used as a Manicomio Giudiziario, today it has been designed to house the women’s housing complex.

In this reality, really remarkable work activities have been born, such as the Marinella tailoring and the small Lazzarella roasting machine. Intrigued by this news I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Imma Carpiniello who was the creator of this project.

D) Good morning Doctor, how and when did this project start?

R) The Lazzarella cooperative was born about 7 years ago and immediately had a positive response. Since coffee in Naples has a daily consumption, I have come up with the idea of ”‹”‹bringing a “bit of prison” to the consumers of this drink. I chose coffee because it is a product that can be easily worked, stored and, above all, can leave the walls of the prison. It is a way to tell a typical day of a prisoner who does not live this reality. A way to sensitize public opinion.

Q) How many workers have they worked and how are they selected?

R) In these years more than 50 inmates have contributed. The selection is made in this way: the inmates are indicated by a list that provides us with the structure itself. After an interview, if they are really willing to work, they are hired with a regular contract and receive a regular salary.

Q) Is it important to work in prison?

R) Work is part of the retraining process. All detainees have a duty to do a job while in detention. The problem is that sometimes there is no work offer for people who serve their sentences neither inside or outside the prison. Many inmates do cleaning work in the kitchens or work for outside firms. Sorry to say but these people also need the money and sometimes they can not even buy basic necessities.

D) Where is this roasting exactly?

R) Lazzarella roasting is located inside the walls of the structure but not in the detention area. The law provides for the possibility of carrying out work outside the district house thanks to the application of art. 21 of the Penitentiary Law (Law 354/75).

D) Who has helped you make this roasting? How is the company structured? How is the coffee processing process carried out?

R) Before this cooperative I had never worked in the coffee world. An old roaster helped us, explaining how to organize coffee production. Today we have 2 roasters, 1 silo to store coffee beans, 1 grinder and 1 vacuum machine. The raw coffee beans, which come from Central America (especially Arabica) and from Africa (especially Robusta), are subjected to a slow roasting at high temperatures (around 200 degrees). Our blend respects the Neapolitan tradition.

D) Who are your customers?

R) We sell coffee to small shops of fair trade or buying groups in solidarity. At the moment we are not interested in large retailers

D) Once the sentence has been served and freedom has been restored, the prisoners who worked in the Lazzarella cooperative continue to do this job? Do they have difficulty re-entering society?

A) Yes, most of them will work for the coffee industry, even if, obviously, there are those who undertake new jobs. The most important thing is to give these women a new awareness of themselves and their potential. Surely each of them has free will and can choose whether to continue to do the old life or change the road. With this path, however, women acquire tools (which before the sentence did not have) that allow them to be able to propose themselves in the labor market. A former prisoner always has difficulty in finding a job, however, with a correct job retraining (which took place in the prison) together with our support (the cooperative guarantees for them by taking risks towards new employers), the woman manages to reintegrate herself in society and to rebuild a new life.

D) I congratulate you for this beautiful prog