The Last Mile, a coding program that first launched inside California’s San Quentin State Prison, has expanded to its first out-of-state prison. Yesterday, The Last Mile announced its plans to launch at the Indiana Women’s Prison with support from Governor Eric J. Holcomb.
“We had a desire to go outside of California this year,” The Last Mile co-founder Chris Redlitz told me over the phone. “It just happened sooner than we thought. It was really [Gov. Holcomb’s] motivation and his team, but ironically, Indiana is a very red state and we come from a blue state. It really shows the non-partisan approach to this that regardless of political preferences or whatnot, it’s an issue that really transcends that.”
Gov. Holcomb envisions The Last Mile transforming the lives of incarcerated women and helping to fill jobs in the state’s tech sector, he said in a press release. The plan, Redlitz says, is to launch no later than April. In Indiana, there is initially space for 24 inmates. Depending on the interest and success of the program, the prison is prepared to open more classrooms.
The Last Mile, which first opened its doors in 2012, is live in five prisons throughout California, including two women’s prisons — one in Chino and one in Folsom. The Last Mile teaches incarcerated individuals entrepreneurial skills, how to code and the elements of web design. Within the next five years, The Last Mile aims to expand to 50 prisons.
“So this really is a test for us,” Redlitz said. “If it works, I think we can more rapidly expand. We just want to make sure we don’t diminish the quality of what we’re producing and the quality of work people are getting out of it.”