Press Release: Montana Department of Corrections and The Last Mile Celebrate Inaugural Graduation of Coding Program in Montana State Prison


Kelly Donohue, The Last Mile – – 310.666.8013
Carolynn Stocker, Montana Department of Corrections – – 406.444.0409

The Last Mile provides technology training for high-demand jobs to incarcerated individuals in facilities across the US

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023, DEER LODGE, MT – Seventeen students graduated from the inaugural The Last Mile (TLM) web development program at Montana State Prison today. The cohort spent the last year learning technology skills including web development, coding, and software engineering to prepare them for high-demand jobs when they return to Montana communities. 

This program is the first of its kind in the state of Montana. Initial funding came from generous contributions from supporters, most notably, the Gianforte Family Foundation. TLM’s mission is to achieve an impact similar to what has been realized in the states in which TLM operates. 

Gianforte Family Foundation Executive Director Catherine Koenen said, “Recidivism rates in Montana and throughout the nation speak to the enormous need for incarcerated individuals to rebuild their lives in a significant way upon reentry to our communities. We’re pleased to partner with The Last Mile in providing not just education and high-tech training, but also hope for some of our most vulnerable residents and their families.”

Graduates of the program shared the following about their experience: 

“The Last Mile gave me purpose and helped me to see something in myself that I did not see before. Meeting the challenges raised my self esteem. The Last Mile gave me tools to have a career in web design when I get out.” Clarence Cook, TLM Graduate at Montana State Prison

 “The Last Mile gave me hope when I had lost all hope of providing for my family, being a productive citizen and believing I had any purpose. It has provided me with unquestionable skills that I have become proficient with in software development.” Jerold Weller, TLM Graduate at Montana State Prison

The Last Mile (TLM) is the leading provider of technology training programs and transitional support for incarcerated people across the country. The program offers comprehensive technology training that prepares students for the workforce upon release from prison. The graduation of TLM’s first cohort at Montana State Prison was preceded by a full year of coursework through TLM’s cloud-based infrastructure. This supports a robust and ever-growing software suite, which provides students with industry-best-in-class toolings such as VS Code, GitLab, MongoDB, DevDocs, and more. 

“The Last Mile appreciates the commitment and support of the Gianforte Family Foundation and Department of Corrections, to provide advanced technical training to incarcerated individuals in their state,” said Chris Redlitz, Executive Director of The Last Mile. “We celebrate the success of this first cohort at Montana State Prison and look forward to partnering with companies to provide TLM returned citizens with opportunities for apprenticeships and employment. Working alongside Governor Gianforte and the Montana Department of Corrections is a collaboration that exemplifies our collective commitment to rehabilitation and reintegration. Together, we are forging a path towards broader career opportunities and a more just and hopeful future for justice impacted individuals.” 

After their program completion, TLM’s Reentry Team supports individuals based on personalized plans to prepare them for a successful transition leading up to, as well as after, their release date. TLM graduates have an 85% employment rate within 6 months of release, largely with the support of TLM’s fair chance hiring partners in the business, media and tech industries. Fair chance hiring is when an organization evaluates and hires candidates for roles based on their qualified skills as opposed to their history or record. These opportunities reduce recidivism and develop a stronger workforce in Montana. 

“We are extremely proud of the individuals who dedicated themselves this past year to The Last Mile coding program,” said DOC Director Brian Gootkin. “When these students return to their Montana communities, they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families with a high-paying career in the state’s growing tech industry.”

About The Last Mile

Turn 2 U Inc. dba The Last Mile (TLM) is an Oakland, CA based 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth for justice-impacted individuals through education and technology training. Through prison education, transitional support and workforce reentry, TLM is disrupting the system of mass incarceration across the United States. In-classroom curricula and course material prepare students for meaningful employment in modern job roles including web development, software engineering and audio and video production. Students cultivate personal and professional development in alignment with the technical education and with the support of TLM reentry staff, volunteers, and a community founded on shared lived experience.

The Last Mile is celebrating more than a decade as an organization, originating with its first program in San Quentin State Prison in California. The Last Mile has continued to leverage the power of public-private partnerships with Departments of Corrections and industry leading companies. Programs are currently operating in 7 states and 13 facilities across the United States. TLM has been able to expand its purpose, To Imagine, Build and Open Doors, into other facilities through these partnerships as well as funding and employment opportunities from the technology sector, including Ken Griffin,, Slack, GitLab, Stand Together Foundation, Bank of America, Apple and more.