Monday, May 28, 2007

Made In Jail

I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a story about the entrepreneurial activities of some ex convicts and present convicts in Rome's Rebibbia prison. It seems they have created a cooperative and are producing MADE IN JAIL clothing. And it seems that the clothing is selling - half a million dollars worth last year. The guys on the inside do the creative and manufacturing work and the guys on the inside do the marketing, transporting, etc.

But that's not all - in my googling of this story I discovered that a number of jails around the world have established call centres employing inmates. So the next time you call for help you may be talking to someone in a penitentiary.

So is this good or bad. On one hand I have to admire the convicts in Rebibbia for having the creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to develop their business. And I think the management of the prison sees the value in constructive work and skill building.

But what about the call centres and other businesses that are just using the convicts as cheap labour - I'm not so happy about that - unless there is actual learning going on. If the convicts are learning usable skills then perhaps the trade-off is worth it. But I still have a twinge when I think of it.

Developing entrepreneurial skills, abilities and attitudes is an important part of Business Education. Is this a new field for us?

If anyone can find an English language website for Made in Jail please let me know

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