ROME (Reuters) - The next time you call directory inquiries in Italy, you may speak to a convicted(1) murderer.
Italy's biggest phone operator, Telecom Italia, on Thursday presented its new call-center in Rome's largest prison, where 24 inmates(2) are glued to a computer screen to answer thousands of requests for phone numbers and addresses every day.
"This is a unique initiative(3) in Europe and it helps the detainees(4) get some work experience and prepare for when they'll get out of prison," said Telecom's Chairman Marco Provera as he toured the Rebibbia jail, a huge concrete block housing 1,600 inmates.
“在欧洲这是项创举。它帮助犯人们获得一些工作经验，为他们出狱后做准备，” 意大利电信主席马可. 普罗瓦让在参观这个叫热比比的监狱时说。在这座巨大的钢筋建筑里关押着1600名犯人。
"Good afternoon, this is Gianluca speaking, how can I help you? Thank you for calling Telecom Italia," said Gianluca Descenzo, who is serving a 13-year sentence for a drug-related murder, politely answering the umpteenth(5) call of the day.
"It's good because people don't know who we are, so we don't feel like we are in a ghetto(6) anymore," he told Reuters as he paused before taking another call.
Rebibbia's call-center runs from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. every day except Sundays.
The detainees get paid 12 cents ($0.15) per call answered and on a normal day each one of them deals with around 200 requests for information.
"Jails should not only be a place for punishment. They need not be a permanent hell, they must also give opportunities to people," said Justice Minister Clemente Mastella.
Telecom says there is no security risk in having detainees consult a nationwide database of phone numbers and addresses.
The prisoners cannot dial outside the jail and the company's computerized switchboard(7) randomly(8) directs each call to any one of Telecom's 45 call centers scattered across Italy.
"This may seem like a boring routine job, but for people who would otherwise spend the day sitting in our cells and doing nothing, it actually gives a sense to your life," said 34-year old Salvatore Striano, who has been convicted for Mafia crimes and also works in the call-center.
1. convict 宣告有罪, 犯人
2. inmate （医院、监狱里）同住者
3. initiative 创举
4. detainees 被拘留者
5. umpteenth 第无数个
6. ghetto 犹太人区
7. switchboard 交换台
8. randomly 随机地