The modern prison system has slowly been finding ways to put inmates to work at jobs that not only benefit society, but also empower the prisoners by expanding their job skills. This better prepares the inmates for the competitive labor market upon their release.
The U.K. is putting prisoners to work on jobs that may make citizens uneasy though. At two jails, HMP Oakwood and Drake Hall women’s jail, inmates have been employed for £20 a week as call center workers. The inmates ask insurance customers for their name and postcode, and then proceed to ask if they have any valuable possessions.
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Inmates follow a script, but they only tell homeowners they are calling on behalf of a “market research” contractor. Once they are speaking with the customer, they are instructed to ask, “Would you like to save some money?” Apparently, most customers say yes.
Obviously, some people are pretty upset about this, claiming that it might not be in these customers’ best interests to be unknowingly sharing their address and where they hide their valuables with convicted criminals.
The Centre for Crime Prevention’s Peter Cuthbertson said, “Trusting criminals with people’s financial details is incredibly naive. Burglars will know who to target when they are released.”
The call centers are run by several private firms, and are part of a Ministry of Justice program to get inmates to work. A spokesperson stated that putting prisoners to work contributes to their rehabilitation and reduces the chances that they will be repeat offenders. They go on to say that all of the prisoners working in call centers are risk assessed and that stringent security measures are in place. All calls are supervised and recorded.