INDIANAPOLIS — One place you may not think to look for job opportunities is in prison, but one company is working to change that inside those walls.
Shashanna Brent is an inmate in Rockville. She said that in her past, she had what she calls bad nouns. In other words, her people, places and things were out of line and she made some bad choices that led to her being behind bars. But now, through a new career opportunity, Brent is working to make good decisions.
Brent said she saw how some women in prison were changing for the better, and she wanted to be a part of what they were doing.
"I just witnessed how they continued to change, and I wanted to know what was going on because with Televerde people recognized them," Brent said.
Televerde recently partnered with Securus Technologies and Aventiv Technologies is a parent company of Securus and other organizations that provide technology and communication services for prisons and their families.
Televerde is a sales and marketing technology organization that currently employs incarcerated women and trains them to manage inbound customer service through call centers.
Dave Abel, president and CEO of Aventiv Technologies, said their company believes we can do more to make prison a better place with opportunities so that people are more likely when they get out to get on a better path.
"The objective of this program and most of the things we do are to be able to reduce the likelihood that someone is incarcerated again," Abel said. "This also provides a wonderful opportunity for the women who are incarcerated who are working in this program. It not only provides them income and a fair wage but it provides training opportunity. It provides skill development and for many it will provide a job post-incarceration."
Participation in this program is highly competitive and reserved for inmates with great behavior and potential. There are currently 45 inmates in Indiana employed by Televerde, including Brent.
"It's empowering, especially behind these walls," Brent said. "I'm incarcerated and I'm working for a global company, and I'm learning advanced technology, like everything. So I'll have the life skills that I need to be successful and that I need to have business conversations with CEOs of large companies."
Brent said the opportunity to work for Televerde has the potential to change her life.
"I have skills that I don't even think I could even obtain until I got here and the women that are here, the talent that is here, is amazing," Brent said. "Televerde just means opportunity to me."
The company not only provides this job training and work to incarcerated individuals, but the technology helps to connect inmates with their families and friends.
Abel said studies show that the more inmates are connected to loved ones outside of those walls, the less likely they are to return to prison in the future. He says in addition to this service, they also field calls for Fortune 500 companies and now have the option to help people in Spanish.
The inmates who they employ are able to offer customer service to individuals and families with empathy and compassion and they have great reports on customer service.
Abel said he believes we need to do more to bring out more potential from our prisons and the people in them for the good of our communities.
"If you think about it, as a citizen, as a taxpayer, it's expensive. And we need to get a greater value from our incarceration system," Abel said. "We believe that this community is a community that is valuable, is essential to our growth as a country, and the better outcomes they get, the better outcomes we get as a society overall."
For individuals like Brent, they not only receive training and job experience now but they will get help post-incarceration from Televerde to help them succeed in the real world.
"Even when I am going to be released, they are going to make sure that I have all the skills sets that I need to be successful," Brent said. "I'll be lined up with mentors from women who have been successful in their transition. I'll have help with college, housing, employment."
Brent said she hopes people who they serve and those who see this story can look beyond her past and look forward to her future.
"We are not just our color, that we wear, but the work that we are actually doing," Brent said.
If you want to learn more about Televerde, Securus Technologies and Aventiv Technologies and the services they provide, you can visit their website.