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ROCKVILLE, Ind.–Almost 50 incarcerated women at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Parke County are working in a call center that helps inmates in other prisons and jails get in touch with their family members.

Those women were hired by Televerde to operate the phone lines, according to Inside Indiana Business. Televerde is an Arizona-based technology company. Securus Technologies has contracted with Televerde to handle customer service calls. Securus is a subsidiary of Texas-based Aventiv Technologies, a diversified technology company specializing in communications services for the corrections and government services sectors.

“What this really, really boils down to is that as a nation, we need to reduce the recidivism rate, the rate with which people return to facilities,” said Dave Abel, Aventiv Technologies President, and Chief Executive Officer, in an interview with Inside Indiana Business.

When the pandemic hit the world hard, prisons and jails stopped in-person visits. Abel said that makes this service even more valuable.

”It is the only method of communication, outside of visitation which has been necessarily restricted by facilities during COVID,” said Abel. “It is a lifeline of connectivity between them and their loved one.”

By partnering with Televerde, Abel said it shows that his company is committed to investing in services that help inmates re-enter society.

The workers hired by Televerde are paid the federal minimum wage, get job training, and learn professional skills. Securus provides phone service, email, and video chat for inmates and their families. The Rockville inmates answer calls from people who are inside and outside institutions and may be struggling wit the Securus technology.

Shashanna Brent has been incarcerated since 2017. She said she joined the program after she saw how much other inmates benefited from working for Televerde.

“They’re recognized for how they carry themselves and their mindset. They think differently. They act differently. And I was like, ‘I want to be part of that,’” said Brent to Inside Indiana Business. “I know how to gauge situations before going into them. And I stay surrounded with positive, influential people.”

Brent said the coronavirus has made the need for technology increase and this experience with Televerde has helped her gain more knowledge about how much the technology keeps changing.

“As far as the inmates go, they may have their tablets or their media. And if they have problems with that, then they’re probably going to get depressed because this is all they have to keep their mind focused,” said Brent. “And so, I’m wanting to make sure that I help them out with their issues. I am more confident that I will be successful in my endeavors. Because they helped me here, but I know that they’re still going to be there for me, upon my release, because they help with mentorship.”

Abel says the national three-year average recidivism rate is 68%, but he also says the return rate for Televerde-trained women is about 5%.