Prison a la carte
- Marie Tihon & Emilie Dejasse
The San Diego Women’s Prison is located in the historic heart of Cartagena, a tourist town in northern Colombia. In this overcrowded prison where violence reigns, the Interno restaurant opened to the public in December 2016. The San Diego Women’s Prison is a pioneer in reintegration and improvement of detention conditions. In addition to the unique experience of eating in prison gourmet dishes served by inmates, it primarily allows the prisoners of San Diego to benefit from ”segundas oportunidades” (second chances), as displayed on the restaurant’s facade.
The restaurant was created by the Accion Interna Foundation currently headed by Johana Bahamon. This famous Colombian actress wanted to offer new opportunities for inmates. They received workshops by local starred chefs to learn them cooking and service skills in order to give them back some self-esteem : ”Everything has changed since Interno, before we were not doing anything, and now we can do something of our hands and prove to the rest of the society that we are capable of it. We feel useful.”, they say. For these inmates deprived of freedom, often bereft of confidence, cooking and serving meals encourages the rehabilitation process. When entering this warmly decorated restaurant, visitors and inmates alike end up forgetting they are inside a prison.