Inmates at California’s San Quentin State Prison can now acquire skills that will actually get them a well-paying job upon release.
San Francisco nonprofit The Last Mile has created a coding class so inmates, many of whom have never touched a computer, can market themselves in today’s technology-driven workforce.
The 18 inmates enrolled in the program learn to build apps and websites over the course of six months, with classes taking place four days a week.
Each student also has to conceive his own startup and pitch the idea in a five-minute presentation to dozens of venture capitalists, according to USA Today.
Inmate Chris Schuhmacher, currently serving a lengthy sentence for second-degree murder, said,
For the past 15 years I haven’t been able to touch it or use it but I have been able to see it on TV and I just feel like this whole world has been passing me by. This has finally given me the chance to reconnect.
The purpose is to, by the end of the course, give each student the ability to handle an entry-level job as a web developer.
But the long-term goal is to reduce the country’s horrifying rate of recidivism.
The Huffington Post cites a 2005 study that found 67.8 percent of inmates get arrested in the first three years they spend out of jail, and 76.6 percent do so within five years of release.