BUFFALO, N.Y. — When you give the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles a ring, you might end up talking to an inmate.
"I'm not aware of any incident that would cause any concern for the DMV customers," said Peter Cutler, a correctional services spokesperson, who says inmates have been taking calls from DMV customers as far back as 1988, told WGRZ.
The NYS Department of Correctional Services operates two DMV call centers, at the medium security Greene Correctional Facility for men and the maximum security Bedford Hills prison for women. Together, 85 inmates handle about one million calls a year.
Offenders convicted of telephone-related crimes, or credit card or computer fraud and not eligible to work at the center. The calls are also monitored at random to ensure inmates are not asking questions they shouldn’t, including asking for personal information.
"This enables the inmates who are in our custody, who are someday going to return to the community, to gain some skills that will make them be able to hold a job which is what we all want them to be able to do, so they don't recidivate and come back into our system," Cutler said.
As the inmates are paid between 46-cents and $1.14 per hour, the state claims it is saving up to $3-million a year in DMV salaries.
"It's cost effective, it's efficient, and it works," Cutler said.
Still, unions representing state workers have voiced objection to the program, claiming it takes jobs away from law abiding citizens.