Peter Weltman discusses beverage and hospitality programs that are breaking the cycle of recidivism by creating pathways to employment in his article “How the Drink Industry is Stepping Up to Provide Jobs for Ex-Offenders. Along with EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, Weltman also follows a winemaking program in Gorgona, Italy; L’chaim Foods in San Francisco; and Beyond Bars Akademia in Cape Town, South Africa.
Gorgona is a prison island, which is home to fewer than 100 inmates in one of the world’s most progressive prisons. Frescobaldi Toscana invests, hires, and oversees the winemaking project that this island is known for. The inmates work in the vineyards, tend vegetable gardens, raise livestock, and take turns visiting their families off the island. Their wine is sold worldwide, so search for a bottle today.
Weltman next dives into the barriers to employment post-release, in which he focuses on EDWINS. Brandon Chrostowski, founder and CEO of EDWINS, explains that his motivation has always been that “Every human being regardless of their past, [should have] a chance for a fair and equal opportunity.” Graduates from EDWINS have an outstanding 97% post-graduate rate of employment and a 1% rate of recidivism.
Rebecca Charles ran the bar at EDWINS and later became the CEO of L’Chaim Foods, a kosher catering company in San Francisco that is dedicated to giving people a second chance. Charles hopes that more restaurant owners will follow in her mission of giving ex-offenders a chance as they return to the workforce.
Lastly, Weltman follows Beyond Bars Akademia, a nonprofit in Cape Town that is committed to training women recently released from Pollsmoor Prison in order to support their reintegration into society and increase their employability. Stephanie Simbo, the founder of the organization, explains that the sixth-month sommelier and bartender training program provides accommodation, education, and job placement.
These four programs, all unique, demonstrate the power of education, training, and opportunity. They are reducing recidivism and the stigmas surrounding former prisoners. To reiterate in the words of Brandon Chrostowski, “Every human being, regardless of their past, [should have] a chance for a fair and equal opportunity.”