Irkutsk, Russia

Prison No. 19 is for repeat offenders. Inmates range in age from 18 to 65 years.

Jim receives a prisoner's hat from an inmate who has been sentenced to Prison No. 19 for the fourth time.

Eating utensils stored for the inmates from Prison No. 19.

Sleeping quarters at Prison No. 19 in Irkutsk

Band members from Prison No. 19 performed a Russian rock song during our visit. Note the blue tattoos on the fingers of the lead singer. They display the years of his prison sentence and the prison in which he serves.

Inside the church at Prison No. 19

Inmates from Prison No. 19 in Irkutsk built this church inside the prison grounds.

Along with Jim's mother, Ernestine, I viewed the hundreds of sables being reviewed and sorted by factory workers. A full-length coat for a person my size requires 55-60 sables.

Sewing machines offer the only modern touch at the Furs of Siberia factory.

Hand-sewing a fur coat

We visited the local fur factory, Furs of Siberia, where sables, lynx, minx, red fox, polar fox, muskrat and chipmunks are used to make fur coats, hats and mufflers. This industry offers much-needed jobs to many Russians.

9 August 1999 Our fur factory visit offered me a glimpse into the past, before automation occurred in manufacturing. Spread over seven floors, the factory uses very few machines, instead having scores of mostly older women hand-stitch fur pelts, which are later delivered by foot to another floor for the next step in the coat-making process. Minx is in demand around the world, the manger told us, since it can be farmed, decreasing price as compared to sable and lynx, which must be trapped.


  The fur factory and Irkutsk Prison #19 (Paige)
  Jim's parents, a Decembrist Museum, an Orthodox Church service and Prison No. 19 (Jim)
  Fur factory visit (Jim)