JUST LIKE WATCHING THE DETECTIVES
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.