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Friday, March 24, 2017

The Last Mile Radio Show

TLM participant Chris Schuhmaker
Last week, SiriusXM announced a new documentary about life behind bars in California's San Quentin penitentiary. The Last Mile Radio focuses on the "tech accelerator" program at the prison that teaches inmates computer coding, entrepreneurship and other business skills.

With the U.S. claiming 25% of the world's prison population, the question the program seeks to answer for inmates is: what will you do when you get back to the world?

The mission of the Last Mile is to change the lives of the incarcerated through technology. Entry-level coding jobs can pay as high as $20 per hour.

Started back in 2010, program graduates who have been paroled have an incredible zero percent recidivism. Some of the graduates of the program have gone on to success in the Silicon Valley.

Many of the program participants are serving long sentences; 25 years to life in some cases. Others were first incarcerated as teenagers with no real educational foundation.

All of the participants seek a chance at redemption. Many inmates seek that redemption through spending their time in prison at a job.

Prison labor is required in America. Since 1979, inmates have worked for low wages -less than a dollar per hour- for the benefit of private companies. Many of the official seals we observe in government buildings, both federal and state, are manufactured via prison labor.

Of course, prison labor is political. While President Obama issued regulations to phase-out federal contracting with private companies for prison labor, the new Attorney General cancelled that directive, indicating that prisons were "open for business".

For their part, the inmates seem to value their jobs. For them, their low wage is less significant than the value they place on being productive.

The Last Mile Radio spotlights a program that goes right to the cutting edge. Computer coding jobs are hot; they pay well.

We here at the Law Blogger applaud these types of innovative programs that seek to turn a negative into a positive.

Post #582

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