Corrections officials in Michigan and Ohio are stopping their prisoners from receiving educational books that teach computer programming skills.
Just like pornography, lewd literature, and racial hate ideology, basic books that can help inmates prepare themselves for gainful employment in computer programming and internet-related industries are now banned, reported Alexa Evans of LawStreetMedia.com.
“Their decisions to ban educational texts related to programming, alongside erotica and literature published by neo-Nazi groups, are in stark contrast with practices in other states and countries, where prisons include coding in educational programs,” wrote MuckRock, a nonprofit website devoted to sharing public information via the Freedom of Information Act, according to Evans.
Titles such as “Windows Game Programming for Dummies” and “Operating Systems Demystified” are on either Michigan’s or Ohio’s list of red-flagged books — even a simple handbook designed to help the elderly familiarize themselves with using computers, MuckRock further detailed.
Michigan’s Department of Corrections has said prisoners are specifically banned from reading books which “contain information about computer programs and applications” because these kinds of texts are a “threat to the order and security of the institution.”
While some computer books are disallowed under 15 CCR §3134.1(e), California does not prevent its prison population from learning about web design and computer programming language.
San Quentin’s flagship program, Code.7370, actually combines web education and computer programming with progressive rehabilitation efforts, aiming to prepare inmates for successful re-entry into society.
In 2014, Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti of The Last Mile launched Code.7370 San Quentin — the first computer programming training curriculum of its kind in any U.S. prison. Since then, Code.7370 has branched out to five more California prisons, including two women’s facilities.
Redlitz has a five-year plan to make Code.7370 a national program.
Inmates in Code.7370 San Quentin work to build apps and develop other software for startup companies and well-known web businesses like Airbnb. The development shop’s coders must complete all their work on a closed network, since prisoners are never allowed internet access.
The men and women who successfully complete Code.7370’s intricate curriculum have the potential to earn more than $16 per hour while still incarcerated.
More importantly, Code.7370 inmates learn invaluable entrepreneurial skills which can enable them to start their own careers upon release, versus pursuing the limited job opportunities available to most ex-convicts.
According to Law Street Media, CNBC ran a report in April stating a zero percent recidivism rate for all Code.7370 inmates following their parole.