A program called The Last Mile is training incarcerated people to write computer code and helping them to find excellent jobs when released.
The California-based program started at San Quentin State Prison in 2010 and has expanded to six other states. The program teaches computer coding to the incarcerated, while another part of its mission is to help graduates find good jobs when they are released, says a Marketplace Morning Report article.
At the Indiana Women’s Prison, Ashley Wallace had already completed other training programs, but found the idea of learning coding appealing. She viewed coding as another job skill she could use when released. She claimed the classes were hard and said, “I wanted to quit a few times, but I pushed through and made it. And I’m actually really glad I did.”
A current student in the program, Tonika Stewart, said she knew it was up to her to make the best of her time in prison. She claimed that she liked “how they trained you,” and reported she was drawn to the fact that “upon your release, they help you find a job.”
Three years ago, Molly Rowe graduated from The Last Mile and is out of prison, living in California, and working for the program helping fellow graduates with reentry. On a recent visit back to the prison, she told students, “We will do everything we can to help you get to the goals that you want.”
It can be difficult for people coming out of prison to find meaningful work with decent pay. Often prison-training programs are not the best, said the article. States need to offer training in fields with “real career potential,” said Margaret diZerega of the Vera Institute of Justice.
Women prisons generally offer fewer courses and often in lower-paying fields. Acquiring lucrative post-incarceration work is especially important for women, since many support young children, the June 27, 2023 article noted.
The Last Mile reported that many of its graduates now work in tech jobs.