San Quentin Computer Coding Program Students
Recidivism in the US Women's Prisons

California Prisons Attempt to Lower Recidivism Rates with Computer Coding Program

A computer coding program turned out to be a success for the men at San Quentin State Prison (SQ). So, in an effort to lower recidivism rates, the program is now available to the inmates of the California Institution for Women (CIW).

The inmate computer coding program was initiated by The Last Mile (TLM), a non-profit organization, in 2015. It’s a joint venture between two big entities:

  1. California Prison Industry (CALPIA)
  2. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
San Quentin State Prison Aerial View
San Quentin State Prison Aerial View

CDCR Grant Funds Computer Coding Program at CIW

And, it was all made possible by a CDCR grant. This prison program grant was designed to boost other California prison initiative programs. According to reports, the grant is responsible for funding 43 programs in CDCR. This is just one of them.

Other projects funded by the grant include:

  • De-escalation skills programs
  • Communication programs
  • Prison gardens programs
  • Service dog training programs

Corrections One reports that 27 women prisoners at CIW will be allowed to take part in the program, thanks to the grant.

Exclusive Interview with CIW Inmate About Computer Coding Program

However, I spoke with one CIW prisoner Friday morning about the inmate computer coding program at her facility. She was one of the prisoners selected to participate in the program at CIW.

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The CIW prisoner assured me that only 24 people are being accepted into the program. Classes at CIW are scheduled to begin shortly after Labor Day weekend.

They are all very optimistic about learning to code in prison. These skills may actually be helpful in helping them reenter the workforce when they’re released.

She also tells me that the program rules are very strict. They are not allowed to miss too many days because it’s a fast-track style program. So, missing just one day could put an inmate far behind the rest of the class.

CDCR is hoping that such programs will help lower recidivism rates within the California prison system. CIW is hoping the computer coding program helps its women inmates, specifically, function better upon returning to society.

California Institution for Women Aerial View
California Institution for Women Aerial View

Computer Coding Program Broadens Horizons at San Quentin State Prison

Back in 2010, two venture capitalists made a prison visit to California’s San Quentin State Prison. During this celebrity prison visit, numerous inmates were interested in learning from Chris Redlitz and his wife Beverly Parenti… about the world of business.

They asked questions like:

  • How do I invest?
  • How do I start my own business?
  • What is the business-world like outside the prison gates?
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And, that’s when The Last Mile was born!

Since the computer coding program began at SQ two years ago, 20 prisoners have graduated. So far, according to reports, not one has returned to prison.

So, CDCR can actually take credit for helping to lower recidivism rates with this one!

Beverly Parenti says she and her husband invested in the program at San Quentin because they believe this helps them do their part to create the community in which they want to live.

San Quentin inmates taking part in the computer coding program are also paid a nice wage. They make $16 per hour for their participation. This is the highest paying job in the entire United States prison system.

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Citizens Need Not Fear… Inmates Won’t Have Internet Access

Some have complained of inmates having access to such programs. They fear what may happen when savvy, educated prisoners gain access to the Internet. But, this is not an issue.

The inmates do not have internet connections while learning to code in prison. Instead, the inmates will learn how to code using a simulated program.

San Quentin Computer Coding Program Students
San Quentin Computer Coding Program Students
Image Source: The Last Mile

Not having internet access does create an obstacle for the prisoners in the program. But, the programming program allows them to learn very marketable skills they can use after release. Some include:

  • JavaScript
  • HTML
  • Python
  • CSS
  • UX/UI
  • Web design
  • Logo design
  • Data visualization
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CIW is Hiring Now

According to the TLM website, the non-profit is currently looking for a Classroom Facilitator. This prison instructor will work with CIW prisoners taking the computer coding program inside the facility.

If you’re qualified and interested in doing your part to help end recidivism in California prisons, this may be the job for you. Click here to learn more about the program.

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Kiesha Joseph
Kiesha Joseph is the owner of Content Marketing Geek Corporation. Her company provides white hat, inbound marketing services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, bloggers and authors. Ms. Joseph enjoys swimming, cooking, eating, dancing, and of course writing. Kiesha is currently the managing content editor for Prison Rideshare Network news for inmates' loved ones.