Colombian inmates work at the Interno restaurant in the San Diego jail in Cartagena, Colombia on August 24, 2017. (AFP / Raul Arboleda)
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Arleth Martinez smooths her clothes, kisses a photo of her twins and leaves for work. It's only a few meters from her Colombian cell to her unusually fragrant workplace, South America's first gastronomic prison restaurant.Following the example of South Africa's Pollsmoor Prison, where Nelson Mandela wound down his 27-year sentence, and another in Milan, inmates at the teeming women's prison in downtown Cartagena are getting a taste for reintegration back into society with an experience that mixes cuisine with customer service.Sentenced to six years for extortion in 2015, present-day life in the San Diego prison has become a little more palatable since she started working at the restaurant late last year.The work is incentivised -- two days washing dishes, preparing or serving food, gets a day of prison time reduced.Tougher sentences and an increase in convictions for drug trafficking have filled Colombia's 138 prisons to well beyond their combined 80,000 capacity.Like other prisons in Colombia, San Diego is overcrowded.
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