Inked Handbags Are Providing a Type of Freedom for These Prisoners

Prison Art HandbagsThese inmates are inking leather instead of skin.

Prison Art Mexico is making handbag designers out of tattoo artists.

Posted by AJ+ on Monday, March 28, 2016


“With this angel, I realized I could be free in spite of being in jail.”

Tattoos tend to be a part of life behind bars, so much so that some inmates even become talented tattoo artists just to kill time. But, prisoners in Mexico City’s North Prison are actually making a living by tattooing on leather instead of skin.

The intricate designs tattooed on leather become custom handbags sold in five boutiques in Mexico City. Edgar, one of the inmates working on this craft, sees this as more than a paying job or pastime. “With this angel, I realized I could be free in spite of being in jail,” he said. “I can express myself with what I do.”

It also allows for a way to connect with his family. “I don’t have to ask my family for stuff anymore. Instead, I have something to give, even if it’s not much. I’m no longer begging for stuff to be able to survive here,” Edgar said. On a monthly basis he makes about $800 and he splits it between the prison and his family.

This type of program is run by the Prison Art Foundation and it provides jobs for 200 inmates in four different prisons. The handbags have been selling so well, they will start selling them in Tokyo and New York.

READ: Would You Buy Prison–Made Clothes?

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