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New York Prisoners Man Call Centers

The current era of budget deficits and fiscal austerity has made prison labor fashionable, at least in the eyes of some government officials.

For nearly two decades, New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been operating a call center from New York’s Bayview and Arthur Kill Correctional Facilities. In December 2010 another call center opened at the Bedford Hills prison, replacing the one at Bayview. Arthur Kill houses male prisoners while Bayview and Bedford Hills hold women.

According to David J. Swarts, Commissioner of the DMV, the prison call centers are “good for the taxpayers,” citing an estimated $3.5 million in savings by using prisoner operators who are paid 46 cents to $1.14 an hour.

The prisoners handle general questions about DMV matters and are not given access to callers’ personal information. Requests for specific information are routed to DMV staff.
Swarts said that no issues with driver privacy have come up in the past four years under his tenure. The DMV call centers at Arthur Kill and Bedford Hills employ 94 prisoners.

“This program benefits both offenders and taxpayers, providing offenders with valuable and marketable skills that help them during incarceration and prepare them for successful reintegration into the community, while providing immediate and recurring savings to taxpayers,” stated New York DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer.

Prisoners serving time for credit card or computer fraud, or for telephone-related offenses, cannot work at the DMV call centers.

Sources:, NY DOCS press release,

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