Prisoners knit clothing for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary in Juiz de Fora, about 160 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Prisoners knit clothing for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary in Juiz de Fora, about 160 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)

The Arisvaldo de Campos Pires, a high security prison in Juiz de Fora, 160km north of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is unlike similar structures anywhere else in the world.

In here, inmates sentenced for such severe crimes as robbery and murder are now knitting high-fashion clothes for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes, in exchange for 75% of national minimum wage and reduced sentences; they get a day cut from their sentence for every three days knitting.

It all started in 2009, when Guimaraes trained prisoners in drawing and designing, as well as in high-quality knitting. At the time, she was looking for knitters for her brand Doiselles.

The brand is a globally recognised name and exports to stores in the US, France and Japan, according to the Mail Online. The products are also sold across Brazil.

"The program gives inmates skills and confidence they can use when they return to life on the outside. This raises the self-esteem of the prisoners, and opens the door to work and employment for everyone else," Celio Tavares, a former inmate jailed for armed robbery, says.

Check out photos of the prisoners hard at work, knitting high-fashion garments for their freedom in this innovative programme...

Guimaraes supervises a prisoner knitting for her in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires prison in Brazil. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Guimaraes supervises a prisoner knitting for her in the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires prison in Brazil. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Prisoners knit clothing Guimaraes in exchange of pay and reduced sentence. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Prisoners knit clothing Guimaraes in exchange of pay and reduced sentence. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
A prisoner draws a fashion model from a photograph. Guimaraes trained 18 prisoners on drawing, designing and knitting. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
A prisoner draws a fashion model from a photograph. Guimaraes trained 18 prisoners on drawing, designing and knitting. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes talks with a prisoner who knits for her. Guimaraes has given a hope to 18 prisoners to better their life; they were sentenced for crimes such as murder and armed robbery.(Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes talks with a prisoner who knits for her. Guimaraes has given a hope to 18 prisoners to better their life; they were sentenced for crimes such as murder and armed robbery.(Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
A saleswoman arranges clothing knitted for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes by prisoners of the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
A saleswoman arranges clothing knitted for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes by prisoners of the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
An overview of the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary where18 prisoners are striving for a better living by knitting for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes' high fashion brand Doiselles. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
An overview of the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary where18 prisoners are striving for a better living by knitting for Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes\' high fashion brand Doiselles. (Photo: REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)