Convicts in India to do data entry for $110 a month

HYDERABAD, INDIA—Being behind bars won’t keep a group of Indian prisoners from joining the global work force.

Convicts in a southern Indian prison will soon join the nation’s outsourcing boom at a data processing centre being set up by an information technology company that works with dozens of businesses around the world.

Working conditions for the inmates of Charalapally Central Jail, in India’s technology hub of Hyderabad, will be somewhat different from usual offices.

There will be no phones and very limited Internet access for the convicts, who are in prison for crimes ranging from petty theft to murder and rape.

“There will be no security hazard involved,” said C. Narayanacharyulu, a director of the company, Radiant Info Systems, that will set up the jail office in about four months. The prison data processing centre will be the first of its kind in the country.

The centre will employ about 250 of the jail’s more educated prisoners.

The prisoners will earn 5,000 rupees ($110) a month, up from the roughly 450 rupees ($10) they now earn making textiles or doing carpentry, said C.N. Gopinath Reddy, director general of prisons in Andhra Pradesh state where the prison is located.

Regular starting salaries at data centres are generally about three times what the prisoners will make.

“Once they become experienced in this work and go out after completing their sentence, a whole new world of opportunity will wait for them,” Reddy said.

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