A non-profit group called The Last Mile has made great strides in educating convicts in California prisons in coding. As such, many ex-convicts have now found employment in California’s tech hub- Silicon Valley.
The Last Mile was founded by venture capitalist Chris Redlitz and his wife Beverly Parenti. The foundation is privately funded with the sale of prison products such as license plates.
The program is currently active in five facilities, and takes up the challenge of teaching inmates how to code on computers. The task has certainly proved to be difficult since a number of convicts have been incarcerated for a fair number of years.
Additionally, the computers used for teaching have no access to the internet. However, despite the hurdles found in the technical aspect of the enterprise, a number of graduates have found their way into the competitive industry upon release.
The success rate of the program can be judged from the fact that none of the convicts enrolled in the program have returned. A former convict, Chris Schuhmacher testified to the authenticity of the program.
Schumacher was an inmate serving the final portion of a 17 year murder sentence at one of California’s harshest prisons- San Quentin. Upon release, Schumacher has obtained employment as a software engineering intern at a tech firm in Silicon Valley.
Speaking of his experience, Schuhmacher stated he had no plans at the start until he enrolled in the coding program behind bars. It was from there that he built the base for the path he is currently following.
Schuhmacher is now employed at an entertainment site called Fandom where fans can post content on their favorite shows.
Schuhmacher said, “For the longest time while I was inside, my biggest fear was what’s life going to be like for me after prison, who was going to give me a chance? I was going to have this stigma of being an ex-felon”. His employer admits that there was some concern regarding Schumacher’s background.
However, Schuhmacher received his opportunity when Fandom’s vice-president made a trip to San Quentin, witnessing the work done first-hand, he believed they should do their bit.
In total, close to twenty alumni have been released from a number of prisons associated with the program.