[OFF THE POST] The overcrowded Chilean prison system, not known for its rehabilitation programs, has introduced a referee training program intended to reward convicts for good behavior and prepare them for reentry to society. "We are accepting our punishment. So we are fit to impart justice on the field," inmate Rodrigo Alarcon told AFP.
The 25-year-old Alarcon, who has 36 more months to serve for robbery, is one of the first 20 men and 10 women chosen for the ref program.
"[The initiative] seeks to generate opportunities for those who most need them," says Claudio Storm, executive director Social Fund. "So, these people who once violated the laws of society, today are being trained and empowered to impart the rules of the game."
After undergoing training, the outlaw officials whistle at an inter-prisons tournament.
Once free, the ex-cons have earning potential. With referees of amateur earning $30 to $40 per game, busy refs can earn up $500 a month, reports AFP.
"Now I'm the one who enforces the rules in the game," says convict Marcos Ayala, 27.