The Last Mile Works buzzed with excitement when two filmmakers and a formerly incarcerated graduate returned, accompanied by several co-workers from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), to tour the prison and get stories for their website.
Code 7370 teaches inmates the fundamentals of coding, while The Last Mile Works (TLM Works) is composed of seasoned coders who work on paid contracts as part of a joint venture between California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) and private companies.
Tamboura currently leads a team that seeks to advance social justice and criminal justice reforms across the nation.
CZI came to San Quentin to get video stories from inside prison to show the free world first-hand accounts of what it is like to be incarcerated and have access to state-of-the-art training.
The Nantucket Project began documenting inmate Chris Schuhmacher about six months ago to show that providing inmates job skills prior to release is in the best interest of taxpayers as well as offenders.
Nantucket toured the prison to get a better understanding about Schuhmacher’s incarceration experience. They filmed the church, a prison cell and the dining hall. They also interviewed several inmates who knew Schuhmacher.
When Schuhmacher earned parole, Zach Bower moved into the cell that he left vacant.
“Danny Pluckett said he was looking for a cellie because Chris just went home,” Bower said. “Danny told me that this was a lucky cell. Chris was found suitable; he was found suitable and now I’ve been found suitable—all from this cell.”
Another filmmaker from Google came to the class to document inmate Jason Jones, 34, and what he’s doing to prepare himself for release after spending 13 years incarcerated.
Google’s film crew got an up close look at what Jones learned from the program.
The objective of creating a documentary about Jones, the director said, is “to show that incarcerated people are capable of redemption through positive social actions.”
In addition, the film aims to show the relationship between providing incarcerated people training and lower recidivism.
Jones signed an employment contract with a technology firm, Wika, making him the first coder to do so before leaving prison.
While Jones is ending his prison term unlike any other incarcerated American, Schuhmacher continues to show that investing in first-rate programs while incarcerated pays off for society—both are graduates of The Last Mile and Code.7370.
Escorting the three groups inside the prison were The Last Mile co-founder Beverly Parenti, CDCR Public Information Officer Michelle Kane, and from the San Quentin Public Information Office, Sgt. R. Gardea.
Fellow coder Harry Hemphill sent Schuhmacher a message: “Chris, I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work.” He added, “Give him my best.”