Outsourcing in Italy — To Convicts

Calling directory assistance in Italy? A convicted murderer might help you locate a phone number.

There has been lots of press about the outsourced phone call centers opened in India, but unlike the U.S., Italy is keeping these jobs within the country—and giving them to convicts, according to Reuters.

Telecom Italia, the country’s biggest phone operator, recently launched a new initiative: opening up phone call centers in Italian prisons. At the call center in Rome’s Rebibbia Jail, the second such center established, 24 of the over 1,600 inmates man the switchboards from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A report in Reuters estimates that each convict deals with about 200 calls per day from Italians requesting information.

The company assures customers that there is no risk in detainees consulting a nationwide list of numbers and addresses, and that the prisoners cannot dial outside the jail. The program is a way to help prisoners take constructive steps, as Telecom’s Chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera says, to “help the detainees get some work experience and prepare for when they’ll get out of prison.”

At 15 cents per call taken, prisoners/convicts are allowed to make a little money and hopefully start to get back on their feet in preparation for the day when they walk out of the prison’s walls. — Cailin Birch