Black women are twice as likely as white women to be incarcerated. And Latina women are 1.2 times as likely.
There are many different reasons for all of these statistics, and I encourage you to check out The Sentencing Project’s website and section on women in prison. It’s an eye opening look into our prison system in the US.
I found another stat that was alarming,
“In the first full calendar year after their release, only 55 percent [of ex prisoners] reported any earnings, with the median earnings being $10,090. Of those with earnings, 4 percent earned less than $500, 32 percent earned between $500 and $15,000, and only 20 percent earned more than $15,000.”2
We could talk about this and I could share stats all day. We could get totally bummed out together about how we have no idea how to make a difference in the lives of ex-prisoners, most of whom deserve a second chance, and how our prison system seems set up not to rehabilitate but to fail the lives of those who go through it. But in the spirit of That’s Normal, where we aren’t afraid to talk about tough topics, but try to show the brighter side, I want to actually kick your week off in an encouraging way and tell you about one organization actually doing something for women in prison: Televerde.
Televerde is a sales and marketing solutions company. Which is a pretty vague term to explain the variety of services they provide. From lead generation solutions to customer service services to inside sales and more, Televerde parters with companies to provide services for their customers and clients.
I’ve worked directly with Televerde for years as they handle customer service for one of my vendors. This vendor generates tens of thousands of leads online and if there are issues with the leads, questions or concerns about them, I contact Televerde for them to handle the issue. Televerde also contacts companies directly if leads go unexamined for a long time. It’s a way for the brand to ensure that the money they are putting into lead generation is worth it and that a sales team is actually looking at these valuable leads.
And Televerde is staffed by female prisoners.
Four of Televerde’s five centers in Phoenix are employed by women incarcerated at Perryville-Arizona State Prison Complex. And, not surprisingly, 25% of the women continue to work for Televerde after they are released from prison!
Televerde gives women an opportunity to learn new skills and to gain experience that they can take with them when they are released from prison. The National Average shows that 68% of prisoners return to prison (really), but over the 23 years Televerde has worked with prisoners, their rate has been just 6.1%.
Televerde doesn’t hire just any prisoners. There are eligibility requirements like a sentence of less than 10 years for a non-violent crime and each woman must undergo six weeks of training plus have a specific type of phone articulation and personality skills. The women are paid minimum wage for eight-hour shirts and receive educations opportunities mentorship and career building skills for when they transition out of prison.
I’ve worked with a few women at Televerde, Jewel being my favorite. I don’t know Jewel’s last name. I don’t know her story, but I know that she is efficient in responding to my requests, communicates well and is extremely kind and helpful over the phone.
I’ve never asked Jewel about her experience in prison. I’m sure that’s frowned upon, and to be honest, I never think about it which is one of the best parts of Televerde. These women working for the company have a purpose and a role. They support me and what I do, just like many other vendors whose life stories I don’t know. To me, and I’m sure to most of the companies they serve, they are just another helpful voice on the phone. Their past doesn’t matter.
Check out Televerde and their mission on their website. If you’re the kind of person who makes these sort of business and hiring decisions, consider using Televerde and supporting women in prison or those just recently released!