Inmates in the Philippines have a far different experience in prison than other inmates around the world. Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) inmates have drawn the attention of the world with their renditions of popular dances like Van McCoy’s “The Hustle,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Now, inmates in Cebu may find their cell block turning into a contact center.
200 inmates are taking courses that will qualify them to enter careers as contact center agents, web developers, Web designers, and computer hardware technicians. So far, there have been 44 graduates from the contact center program, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano is hopeful that Filipino prisons could replicate programs that have been working in Canada and the United States, in which inmates are able to work while they serve their sentence. There would be a few security concerns, which would be easily overcome by having the inmates respond to emails and chats, rather than answer phone calls, which Sun Star’s Mia A. Aznar says are “easier for security officers to monitor and detect irregularities.”
While this may seem far-fetched to some, inmates have amply proven that they can do more than just make license plates—at the Greene Correctional Facility in New York, inmates work as call center agents, answering questions for the DMV. 1-800-VISIT-NC contact center agents are also incarcerated, and, according to Network Packet Broker’s Linda Dobel, it is considered a successful program that has helped to save taxpayers’ money. Inmates cited in her 2011 story about the program were enthusiastic about their ability to be useful to their state and the program helping them do more than “sitting here and wasting away.”
With many successful programs as its precedent, it is likely that Cebu will soon find its plans of turning the cell block into a contact center a reality.
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