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Convicts at San Quentin State Prison are learning to code

Posted on 05/10/2017

picture of a computer

For a select group of motivated inmates at San Quentin, located just outside of San Francisco, hope comes in the form of an intrepid non-profit called The Last Mile, which is teaching convicts how to code and working with Silicon Valley companies to give hardened criminals a shot at success once they're released.

Despite the fact that there's no internet in prison, and many of the inmates have been incarcerated since the days before the flip phone, The Last Mile has made a mission out of rehabilitating prisoners through computer coding. The organization, which is now in 4 prisons with plans to expand, was founded by venture capitalist Chris Redlitz and his wife Beverly Parenti, after Redlitz visited San Quentin in 2010 and was impressed by its business-savvy occupants. "Many wanted to start businesses, they wanted to learn how to invest, and they wanted to understand what it was like in the real world," he said.

According to Redlitz, that visit changed his life.

They started The Last Mile shortly after. Parenti said the driving force behind starting the program was realizing how much money is wasted on locking up criminals who eventually get released and end up returning to prison.

The highly competitive program costs roughly $200,000 per year to run, and is funded privately and with the sale of prison products like license plates. Since its inception, 20 men have graduated from The Last Mile coding program and are out working in the real world. None of them have returned to prison.

Read about the personal success stories related to this program in the April 10, 2017 CNBC article External link opens in new window or tab by Michael Newberg.

Source: CNBC Tech External link opens in new window or tab