The Last Mile prepares incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training.
Five years ago, Chris Redlitz entered San Quentin State Prison for the first time. Because of his background in venture capital, he was invited to speak to a group of men about business and entrepreneurship. He was so impressed by the men’s level of business knowledge and desire to learn, he began to nurture the idea of creating a Technology Accelerator inside the prison. His wife and business partner, Beverly Parenti, was not immediately enamored with the idea, but they agreed to immerse themselves into the issue of incarceration in America, and find a path to help resolve this daunting problem:
The US contains 5% of the world population
25% of the world’s incarcerated population
Since the 1970s our prison population has grown 700%
Prison spending for state and federal institutions is nearly $48 BILLION a year
Recidivism rate is over 60%
Beverly agreed to join Chris on a journey to create The Last Mile (TLM). Since its inception The Last Mile has generated a groundswell of support for criminal justice across America. Never before have we experienced such a cooperative, non-partisan effort to curb the problem of mass incarceration. Imagine if we could break the cycle of incarceration and instead of spending tax dollars for prison, we could spend these tax dollars on higher education, and provide educational opportunities for youth in underserved communities. This would enable them to choose a different path than one of crime. With education and career training opportunities we could break the generational cycle of incarceration. There’s plenty of proof that the impact of one man’s incarceration is felt by families and communities for decades.
US contains of the world’s population 5%
Of the world’s incarcerated population 25%
Recidivism rate in California 64%
Increase in US prison population since 1970s 7x 100%
The Last Mile (TLM) was created to provide programs that result in successful reentry and reduce recidivism. We believe that jobs are the key to breaking the cycle of incarceration. Our mission is to provide marketable skills that lead to employment. Our in and out program provides career training in prison with mentorship and job placement upon release.
TLM began as an intensive 6-month entrepreneurship program at San Quentin, in which men learned how to tap into their passion to create a business that includes a technology component and social cause. At Demo Day in front of 350 invited guests from the business community and fellow inmates, they pitch their ideas. Many say it’s the best day of their life.
Through the process, they learn how businesses function, how to work with a team, accept criticism, gain confidence in their ability to grasp new ideas, and pivot when they are heading down the wrong path. With the help of volunteers, guest speakers, and leaders from the business community, they are introduced to the latest technology without access to the internet or hands on experience.
Since Internet access is not allowed in prison, programs are taught without connectivity. To overcome this challenge we created a proprietary programming platform that simulates a live coding experience. Imagine, software engineers who are judged by the quality of the code they develop, not by the stigma of criminality.
It is predicted that there will be a shortfall of 1 million software engineering jobs in 2020. The TLM “returned graduates” will be positioned well to leverage this opportunity and support our mission to reduce recidivism by attaining gainful employment.
In 2016 we launched TLMWorks web development shop inside San Quentin to employ graduates as software engineers.