Inmates in a Chicago medium-security prison can order hot freshly-made pizza to be delivered directly to their cells.

Prisoners at the Cook County Jail in the Little Village area in the west of the city can have hot gourmet pizzas sent to their cells, made in an on-site pizza oven.

The jail had previously won support for it's 'Recipe for Change' programme, run by Italian chef Bruno Abate, which teaches inmates at the jail how to cook.

According to the Chicago Tribune, pre-trial detainees in the jail's Division 11 can use their commissary to pay for the food, which is cooked by fellow inmates.

The pizzas cost between $5 (£3.87) for a plain margherita and $7 for a four seasons pizza containing mushrooms, soppressata (salami), olives and egg.

The sausage pizza is a firm favourite with the lags, according to sheriff's spokesman Cara Smith.

Smith denied that offering the service was "coddling the detainees," adding that the revenue generated from the sales will support the programme, which is monitored by Sheriff Tom Dart.

Abate, originally from Milan, owns a restaurant named Tocco in the city, and says he teaches the inmates culinary skills to give them dignity and teach them responsibility through an introduction to healthy food, good nutrition and the art of quality cooking.

The Tribune reported that Dart originally planned to have Abate's students sell pizzas to prison staff but officers "did not want anything to do with anything made by detainees," according to Smith.

The pizzas have been on sale since 20 April to pre-trial detainees - around 1,536 men - with six different recipe options. By Monday (8 May) 208 pizzas had been sold, Smith affirmed.

The Tribune added that there are plans to start a food truck, serving food cooked by inmates, which is still in the development stage.

Abate believes that the skills prisoners acquire on the programme can be used when they're released and looking for work.