Meet the Convicts Who Code


Unique training program teaches inmates programming in prison




On June 28, 2017, Steve Lacerda stepped outside San Quentin State Prison in California for the first time in a decade.

For most ex-cons, leaving prison can be scary and fraught with post-release challenges—including unemployment. That's one reason why over two-thirds of all released inmates will return to prison within three years. But unlike other ex-cons, Lacerda had an advantage: a marketable skill he learned in prison.

He learned to code.

Lacerda participated in The Last Mile (TLM), the first in-prison computer coding program in the United States.

Inmates learn a half-dozen or so programming languages, soft skills and entrepreneurship so they can find and hold down jobs.

The program has been so successful that it has expanded to other prisons across California.

Lacerda and hundreds of inmates have learned to code websites for businesses—giving them a lucrative skill in a market thirsty for talent in a field that generally pays in the six-figure range.


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