When most people talk about a “prison code,” they likely referring to an unwritten code of conduct amongst prisoners—one that lays out the expectations for how those behind bars are to behave, and one that defines what type of “inmate justice” might result if those rules are disregarded.
At San Quentin State Prison in California, however, a different kind of code is being taught to prisoners. And while the the traditional “prison code” regulates behavior inside correctional facilities, this code has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these men long after they leave the prison yard behind.
A new program initiated by the California non-profit organization The Last Mile is providing computer training for 18 prisoners. For 32 hours a week for six months, these men—some of whom had never used a computer before enrolling in the class—are being taught computer coding that can be used in software and web development. Upon completing their training, these men will be able to receive payment for their services while still behind bars, and the promise of real earning potential upon release.
“That’s my goal, to become a computer programmer behind bars,” prisoner Larry Hinston says in an interview with CCNMoney. “To become confident and then to take that skill to the streets … as I look for the opportunity to start my business. It’s given me hope to continue to strive.”
The ability to procure a steady job at a sustainable wage is a major hurdle for many men and women when they leave prison. Programs like The Last Mile’s do a great service in providing training and, in some cases, connections to allow for meaningful employment. However, there are many other factors that determine if a prisoners return to the world outside the prison walls will be a success. There is a need to find affordable housing. There is a need to avoid past temptations and associations that might lead back to prison. Most of all, there is a need for spiritual guidance and encouragement—a change of the heart and soul nurtured by those willing to walk alongside these restored members of society in love and friendship.
Prison Fellowship seeks the transformation of prisoners and their families. In addition to vocational training and networking, Prison Fellowship offers spiritual mentoring and the support of a community of believers—both as these men and women serve their sentences in prison, and as they begin their new lives outside it.
To find out how you can be a part of this transformation, visit www.prisonfellowship.org/get-involved.