Magazine article Corrections Forum

Alum Employs Inmates, Provides Second Chance

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Alum Employs Inmates, Provides Second Chance

Article excerpt

Kogod School of Business, American University

Visiting James Hooker (MBA '77) at work is a little more complicated than taking an elevator to a corner office. Visitors have to provide driver's license, social security number and undergo a complete background check. That's because Hooker's business, Phoenix, Arizona-based marketing services company Televerde, is primarily based in a women's prison.

"It usually comes as a surprise when people hear where we do our work but most of our clients have been positive about it and are eager to see our work in person," he said.

Televerde currently employs approximately 300 women serving sentences in Arizona's Perryville Prison, located just outside Phoenix. The women, many of whom have never had a steady job, according to Hooker, are trained as marketing sales professionals and primarily field client phone calls.

"It's a win-win arrangement," Hooker said. "We're providing these women the opportunity to learn real business skills, something tangible to carry forward in their lives, and, at the same time, providing our clients high-quality, professional services."

In the 17 years since Hooker founded the company, Televerde has employed some 1,500 women, many of whom either continued to work at Televerde or a related company after their release. …

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