Inmates at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California are learning how to design and launch tech programs.
The Last Mile, a program that pairs computer volunteers with prisoners, teaches complex computer coding to inmates. Graduates of the program who left prison have found employment in the industry, the Associated Press reports.
“We believe that when incarcerated people are released into the world, they need the tools to function in today’s high-tech, wired world,” co-founder Beverly Parenti said.
“You do the math: As a taxpayer you’ve already spent about a million dollars for their incarceration, and if you don’t give them the tools to be successful in society upon release, the chance of them coming back … is quite high,” Parenti added in an AP video.
Inmates are carefully selected for the six-month training, AP notes. Instruction is not without its challenges. The prisoners are not allowed access to the Internet to prevent them from networking with other criminals, so the twice-weekly lessons are lecture-based.
Many of the inmates were locked up before smartphones and Google even existed, but now practice tweeting, blogging and thinking up of new companies and discussing business books, the AP reports.
There are plans to expand the program, which has graduated 12 prisoners in the first two years, five of whom have since been released and are currently working in the tech sector, the AP said.
Read more at Newser.