Twenty inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex take part in baking 36,000 loaves of bread a week to feed the city’s entire population behind bars — about 13,000, reports the Associated Press. Employees in orange-and-white-striped jumpsuits and surgical caps earn $31 a week churning out whole wheat bread. The prison bakers say they are learning skills that may keep them gainfully employed once they get out.
Only inmates sentenced to one year or less in jail may be assigned to the work. Most of the other Rikers residents are awaiting trial on charges including murder. A window sign in a supervisor’s office reads: “FAKE & BAKE” — a small try at making people smile in this grim community. The bakery’s products are not for sale to the public — even though prisoners agree it’s tasty enough to succeed outside the island. Tacked to a wall is a reminder scribbled in bold letters: “COUNT BLADES.” Keeping track of the blades in the slicing machines is a security measure to keep inmates from taking away any object “that might be turned into a handmade weapon.”