Sep 11, 2007

KOROR, Palau: "Prisoners are not allowed beyond this point," the sign reads. That would be the sign just inside the front door of Palau's Department of Correction.

I raise an eyebrow. Tem shrugs: "Well, most of them work outside. The rest are pretty cool."

Indeed, Micronesia's inmates sandbag, man ambulances and hoe taro fields, among other tasks. Lorraine explains: "Jail's more a rehabilitation center here. A lot have jobs from 6am to 6pm, then sleep at the prison. They're not locked up 24 hours a day; they're being useful."

Some attribute this sensibility to the matriarchal society. But as another local notes: "we don't have serial killers here. And the people that misbehave tend also to be pretty talented. So we let them help the community ... or carve storyboards, so they have money for their families."

The Department of Correction sells its inmates' art: kinda like license plates, but infinitely better, as each sculptor brings a distinct style to the wood slabs. And it has a – for lack of a better word – a gallery smack inside the national prison.

I'm going in ...

And the only backup I need is financial.


  1. sascha2:02 AM

    Sounds like the perfect retreat for writers.

  2. Cor, blimey. I might actually get something done...

    PERISH the thought.

    Xoxoxo, Ax.

  3. "And the only backup I need is financial"

    Haha, that's good.

    My memory is fuzzy, but it sort of reminds me of the national women's prison in Iceland, which is housed in a spartan, two-story, white house with black trim on a nice farm outside of Reykjavik. No fences, and I was told that the four girls who lived there were quite content.

    No word on whether any of the four were travel writers.

  4. Or maybe they were travel PHOTOGRAPHERS?

    Congrats on your new incarnation, DB!

  5. Well, not only is that possible, it's quite plausible.

    (And thanks!)