At its, the programming that you’ll find within a prison serves a myriad of purposes, the most prominent of which is to reform the prisoner for a better life outside of the walls of a jail cell. In the past, I’ve written about pet therapy, family therapy, the SMART program, and gardening projects within prisons that serve specific purposes that include helping prison inmates adapt and grow emotionally, prepare them for life after prison, help strengthen family bonds, or a combination of them all. Now, with evolving technology elbowing its way into everyone’s’ lives, prison programming is following suit, bringing computer-savvy to the skill sets of those who may be able to utilize it later in life.
In 2014, members of San Quentin State Prison in California got to experience, for what was likely the first time ever, today’s computing technology at their fingertips. The struggles of understanding new technology after a lengthy cut-off have been well-documented. For those who haven’t so much as seen a smartphone or touched a computer since their incarceration, learning in-depth backend computer skills could prove exceptionally difficult. But for these prisoners, it’s simply another challenge to take on.
For many inmates who aren’t serving a life sentence, a priority is not only making their prison experience as easy and incident-free as possible, it’s ensuring that their post-prison life is as smooth as possible.
Upon release, many former prisoners struggle to adjust to life on the outside. Technology changes, people change and, most of all, the lifestyle is entirely different. There’s not a regiment, you don’t get housing gifted to you any longer. Essentially, you’re on your own. And for many, this is a shock, and it’s difficult to find yourself back in the swing of things. Job placement is an extremely strenuous portion of post-release life for former prisoners. Often, they leave incarceration without a core skill-set and, of course, with a criminal record.
Code.7370, however, is changing all of that. Chris Redlitz entered San Quentin State Prison with only one goal: to educate prisoners on how to code from start to finish. The project was immensely successful, and Redlitz credits it to the prisoners’ desire to learn.
“When I was finished speaking, hands went into the air,” said Redlitz in an article on Ted.com. “My thirty-minute talk turned into a two-hour discussion. These men were prepared, motivated and committed to learning how they could create a better life after they served their time.”
Since its inception in 2014, none of the graduates of the program have been sentenced to any jail time. And Code.7370 is just getting started, as the program has since expanded to other prisons in the area. Redlitz hopes to make a national program out of Code.7370 in years to come.