Carp Prison Pouches

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be a fair bit warmer today, with a high of 11C. In fact, the rest of the week and into the weekend will see highs hovering in the low teens. Unfortunately, the warm weather will be accompanied by rain for the next three days. Starting late Thursday and all through Friday and into Saturday morning, we can expect wet weather. It'll clear up and be nice on Sunday. I hope so! My last two weekends have been either rainy or snowy. I need some sun to go for a run!

Although the Hiroshima Carp are Japan’s most cash-strapped pro baseball club, they do come up with some pretty interesting merchandise. For something a little different, however, how about an official Carp wallet made by local prisoners?

Hiroshima Prison Carp Goods

Inmates at Hiroshima Prison in Yoshijima have been producing pouches sporting the Carp logo since the summer of 2014. These are no bootleg goods as they have been given permission by the Carp organization to use their official logo free of charge.

Due to the high level of skill required, only 3 or 4 of the 80 or so inmates working in one of the prison’s two textile factories, which mostly produce items such as pajamas, kids trousers and sheets, are engaged in producing two styles of pouch. One is in the shape of baseball uniform sporting the Carp logo on the front and player names and numbers on the back. The pouch, which sells for ¥500, uses reflective material to help with road safety when dangling from a bag or belt. The thing that makes them unique is that they have the words Hiroshima Prison [“廣島 (the old characters for Hiroshima) PRISON”] boldly embroidered on them. The other design is a larger pouch, which goes for ¥1000, to hold a bank book. It has a special pocket in which the user can keep a card with the telephone number of a family member to call in the event of being targeted in a telephone scam.

A prison guard shows off Hiroshima Carp themed goods produced by local inmates.

About 220 of the pouches are made each month and the 50 or so that have gone on sale in autumn at Mazda Stadium for the past two years have sold out in just 10 minutes. According to the Chugoku Shinbun, the pouches can be bought from the Japan Correctional Association office at the prison and the little uniform pouches can also be picked up at the driving center in Saeki-ku.

According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ),

Prison work imposed on sentenced inmates is so organized as to enhance re-entry into society through not only providing inmates with vocational knowledge and skills, but also be enhancing mental and physical health and the will to work, and encouraging inmates to become more conscious of their role and responsibility in community life.

Inmates work about 8 hours a day, Monday or Friday with a 20 minute break in the morning and afternoon, as well as a 40 minute lunch break. As with other aspects of prison life in Japan, there are many rules which are strictly enforced. Workers are not allowed to talk, nor to look at anything other than what they are looking at. Making eye contact with a fellow prisoner or a guard is prohibited and punishable.

The inmates don’t work for free. Again from the MoJ,

… incentive remuneration is for the purposes of encouraging their work and providing them with funds for rehabilitation after being released from the penal institution.

The MoJ goes on to say that the average monthly incentive remuneration was |4,723 in 2011. They are apparently allowed to spend only about one-fifth of these earnings on articles such as toiletries or stationery, the remainder being kept for them in a savings account.

Officials at Hiroshima Prison have been quoted as saying that the chance to work on popular products related to the Carp is a great encouragement to the inmates involved, and on a visit last November, Minister of Justice Iwaki Mitsuhide, expressed his gratitude to the Hirohsima Carp for being the sole pro-baseball team to allow their name to be associated with helping prisoners reform.

I don't know about you, but I think it's a great idea. I, for one, would buy one of these if I ever saw one...

Have a great day!

PS I don't really think the Carp are cash-strapped. They just got $20 million for selling Mae-ken to the Dodgers...

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