California Nonprofit Combats Recidivism Through Tech

A California-based nonprofit organization is on a mission to combat recidivism through tech education. According to Black News, The Last Mile created a program for inmates centered on coding in an effort to prepare them for jobs in the technology industry upon their release.

The organization—which was founded by Chris Redlitz and his wife Beverly Parenti a decade ago—aims to tackle mass incarceration by providing individuals who are incarcerated with business and technology training to prevent reentry. Their nonprofit was built on the pillars of “education, vocation, expansion and workforce reentry.” Inmates participate in software development training programs that teach HTML, CSS, Javascript and other programming languages. The Last Mile works to align individuals who complete the program with career opportunities at tech giants like Facebook, Slack, and Google.

After securing roles, former prisoners often come back to lead courses for the organization. “At The Last Mile, we are using technology to try and solve mass incarceration,” said Jason Jones, a former inmate-turned- software engineer who teaches prisoners coding. “Not only are we driving down the recidivism rate where people get out and don’t come back no more, but we also have the ability to go back in the community and stop people from going into prison in the first place.” Redlitz says The Last Mile is dedicated to giving individuals who are incarcerated a second chance at life. “Generally, many people inside want to do better, want to second, want to be successful,” he said. “So, create that opportunity, because 90 percent of people are going to get out, the question is, ‘who do you want them to be?’”

Programs like the one being led by The Last Mile are needed. According to a study released by the Pew Research Center, the average national recidivism rate for released prisoners is 43 percent.

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