A first-of-its-kind program has been launched at San Quentin State Prison.

A first-of-its-kind program has been launched at San Quentin State Prison. Photo by Lt. Sam Robinson, AA/PIO, San Quentin State Prison.

By Michele Kane, Chief of External Affairs
California Prison Industry Authority

Eighteen offenders at San Quentin State Prison are participating in a new innovative technology training program designed to teach them computer coding skills to help them become more employable when they leave prison.

An inmate learns coding through a new program at San Quentin State Prison. Photo by Alan Barrett, Promotional Specialist, CALPIA.

An inmate learns coding through a new program at San Quentin State Prison. Photo by Alan Barrett, Promotional Specialist, CALPIA.

The program, Code.7370, was developed by the non-profit organization, The Last Mile, in collaboration with the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

The new Code.7370 program curriculum utilizes proprietary program architecture to simulate a live-coding environment without Internet access. Silicon Valley’s technology business community developed the course syllabus and help administer the instruction.

“Code.7370 program is unique not only because it’s being taught inside San Quentin State Prison, but it has an end goal of preparing incarcerated people for jobs in the tech sector after they are released from prison,” said Chris Redlitz, co-founder of the Last Mile Program.

The program teaches HTML, CSS and JavaScript virtually through a dedicated administrative connection, twice a week from the technology campus of Hack Reactor in San Francisco. Participants have access to an offline computer lab four days a week where they complete projects.

“The real-world job experience this computer-coding class provides is beneficial to inmates and the general public,” said Charles Pattillo, General Manager of CALPIA.  “If a person can leave prison, get a job and not come back, it saves taxpayers money and keeps communities safer.”

The first 18 offenders to participate in the Code.7370 program.

The first 18 offenders to participate in the Code.7370 program.

CDCR education officials are enthusiastic about the project.

“It’s rewarding to provide meaningful educational experiences for incarcerated individuals,” said Dr. Brantley Choate, Superintendent of CDCR’s Office of Correctional Education. “The computer coding training provides innovate and entrepreneurial thinking, which is so important in the job market.”

Aly Tamboura, 48, is part of the first Code.7370 class and is grateful for the training.

“The 7370 program provides not only an employable skill that I can use when I’m released, but it’s a skill that’s sought after in the Tech industry and it should pay more than the average living wage,” said Tamboura. “Every day is a challenge and every day I challenge my mind is a great privilege.”

The Last Mile (TLM) was established in 2010 in San Quentin State Prison, utilizing the experience and resources of successful entrepreneurs, leveraging their extensive network in the technology business community to help bridge the gap between the penal system and the technology sector.

TLM utilizes current technology and social media resources to build programs that address the fiscal challenges and high recidivism rates facing our nation’s prison system. Learn more at www.thelastmile.org.

What is the project?

Code.7370 is a curriculum developed by The Last Mile and Hack Reactor. It is packaged into transferable content modules, allowing approved correctional facilities to effectively administer the curriculum.

The six-month program is structured as a progression toward the normal day-to-day life of a software engineer in an entrepreneurial environment. It begins with heavy lecture and lab training sessions taught by expert instructors and moves toward independent projects and internships with technology companies.

HTML, CSS and Java Script are the primary areas of concentration.

What is CALPIA?

CALPIA trains approximately 8,000 inmates per year in service, manufacturing and agricultural industries in California’s penal institutions.

CALPIA is self-supporting and does not receive an appropriation from the state budget.  CALPIA participants returned to prison, on average, 26-38 percent less often than offenders released from the CDCR general population.

Learn more at https://pia.ca.gov/

Media interest in the program was heavy. Photo by Alan Barrett, Promotional Specialist, CALPIA.

Media interest in the program was heavy. Photo by Alan Barrett, Promotional Specialist, CALPIA.

__________

Follow CDCR on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cacorrections;
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cacorrections;
and YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/CACorrections