Italy Travel: Naples Hires Ex-Convicts as Tour Guides
In Southern Italy, the city of Naples started to hire ex-convicts as tour guides. The program, "Esco-Dentro" or Exit-Inside, was launched to help ex-cons reintegrate into the society and decrease the crime rate. Ex-convicts were given jobs in public service, and the most controversial task was tourist guides. Besides handing out brochures, they can also point you to the best pizza place and how to avoid pickpocketing.
“The biggest financial enterprises in southern Italy are the mafia, the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta,” said Naples Councilman Corrado Gabriele, who oversees Esco-Dentro. “You don’t need to read Roberto Saviano’s great book to know that,” he said, citing “Gomorrah,” the internationally acclaimed book on the Neapolitan mafia.
Gabriele, who oversees the project, attempts to chip away the workforce of organized crime by finding ex-convicts proper jobs. His approach was met with hostility. He has received threats from the infamous Camorra mafia, and also criticisms from political opponents.
The level of distrust from politicians and law enforcement officers are deeply entrenched. A worker was taken to police station because he was issued a jaywalking ticket, which Gabriele remarked, "the first jaywalking fine issued in Naples in 200 years." Ex-convicts feel that they are still seen as outsiders even after they have paid their debt in prison.
One worker, Massimiliano Di Caprio, has two daughters and said he just wanted to make an honest living. “Tourists are in good hands, but politicians don’t really care about helping us,” he said. Others grumbled that in Italy lawmakers had just as much of a reason to be in jail as they had.
Ex-convict tourist guides will have a even harder time if a single case of foul play is reported. Anyone been to Naples recently?
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