Prison inmates are being turned into computer programmers in this great new initiative

What's Going On

One of the greatest economic setbacks of the United States is that we incarcerate so many prisoners.  The US puts more people in prison than any country in the world, making us one of the least free countries on the planet.  So, whenever someone applauds the US for all of its freedoms, you may want to remind them that this is the country that is actually most likely to take away the freedom of its own people.

Another consequence of the mass incarceration problem is that there is a great deal of untapped potential left in prisons.  Some of that potential is exploited through the use of slave labor, where inmates are forced to do work for wages that are barely above nothing.   In many cases, real American jobs are being taken away and given to prison inmates so that corporations can make higher profits.  The plans have worked:  The wealthiest 1% have a greater percentage of American wealth than they’ve had in the last 100 years.

Making matters worse is that prison is often used as a place of punishment, and not the rehabilitation of citizens into productive members of society.  As a result, men and women are sent away to languish, gaining little education and skill in the process, only to re-enter society to commit more crimes.  On top of that, prison inmates are disallowed entry into quite a few industries in America, making it very difficult for many inmates to find jobs that allow them to provide for their families.

This program below gives some degree of hope.  At the very least, there is a chance for former inmates to start their own businesses and make money that way.   The program appears to be showing promise, you can read more about it below.  The ironic thing is that the slogan being used to motivate inmates is to “Think Different.”  Well, it appears that for this system to stop destroying America, those who run it are going to have to think different as well.  Creative thinking is a two-way street.

The men in prison-issued blues sit side by side at long wood tables, learning to write software code on refurbished computers in a bare-bones lab inside San Quentin State Prison.

On the wall hangs a sign with the famous Steve Jobs slogan “Think Different.”

You can’t think much differently than this.

Inmates inside these aging walls are cut off from the technology being built just miles away in Silicon Valley. Many have never touched a computer mouse, let alone a smartphone.

Those who have jobs in prison usually make license plates for California residents, furniture for state agencies or reflective gear for transportation workers.

But now through a rigorous new coding boot camp called Code.7370, 18 of them are learning to become programmers.

The effort is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Code.7370 is housed inside a converted printing shop where inmates used to churn out state forms and documents. Four days a week inmates come here to be taught the basics of computer coding by seasoned instructors from Hack Reactor, a programming boot camp in San Francisco.

The goal: That in six months inmates will have the coding chops to land work as entry-level Web developers. 

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