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Jailbirds help hardened criminals to reform

A notorious South African jail where Nelson Mandela spent six years as an inmate is rehabilitating criminals by giving them the responsibility to rear parrots and other birds. The Correctional Bird Project at Cape Town's Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison tasks inmates to take care of chicks and young birds before they are sold as tame pets to bird lovers.

Stephane de Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

A parrot sits on the hand of a prisoner participating in the "Correctional Bird Project" at the Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, South Africa on March 18.

Stephane de Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

Prisoners talk in a corridor at the Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, near walls painted with murals of parrots.


According to photographer Stephane de Sakutin, the program fields constant requests from prisoners wanting to join and places are limited to around a dozen prisoners who undergo training and must adhere to a ban on gangsterism, smoking, swearing, and drugs. In return, the inmates are given privileges like single cells.

Stephane de Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

A prisoner participating in the "Correctional Bird Project" talks to his Senegal parrot at the Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.

Stephane de Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

A prisoner participating in the "Correctional Bird Project" at the Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town feeds a parrot chick.