- 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%
About The Last Mile
The Last Mile prepares incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training.
Students Served: 500
Current Students: 144
Returned Citizens: 55
Recidivism Rate: 0%
Theory of Change
We believe that the key to breaking the cycle of incarceration starts with in-prison rehabilitation through education. The Last Mile, currently operating in 8 prisons across the US, teaches students to build websites and applications, all without access to the internet. The program has served over 400 students to date and boasts a zero percent recidivism rate. As students move through the program, we focus on FOUR pillars:
1. EDUCATION starts inside
GOAL: The full time program, split into two 6-month segments, trains incarcerated students on marketable computer coding skills.
2. VOCATION opportunities on the inside, provides better outcome on the outside
GOAL: Graduates of TLM coding program receive opportunity to gain real-life work experience, earn market wage and have a portfolio of work before they enter the tech job market post-release through TLM Works, an innovative in-prison workforce development program.
3. EXPANSION across the country
GOAL: The coding program is designed to be easily replicated across the country through a franchise model that delivers the curriculum through a safe and secure Learning Management System.
4. REENTRY through hiring, community, and government partners
GOAL: In partnership with a top tier tech company, TLM Returned Citizens continue their education and build upon their skills learned in prison through year long paid apprenticeship pipeline focused on specialized software engineering training. We also work with local community and government partners to assist with issues related to reentry (housing, parole, etc).
Our mission is to provide marketable skills that result in gainful employment, because we believe that jobs are the key to successful reentry and breaking the cycle of incarceration.
We focus on creating an environment that utilizes our team’s individual expertise to achieve our shared purpose. TLM employees exemplify collaboration through:
- Direct and honest communication
- Leveraging opportunity to work with unexpected partners
- Utilizing expertise of all parts of our organization–students, staff, returned citizens
- Changing community inside and outside prison
Working inside incarcerated spaces, we want to provide the tools to empower our students to be leaders and proactive members in their community. The same resonates with our staff:
- Through education, students are empowered to be their own leaders
- Staff needs to feel empowered to make proactive decisions, instead of solely reactive
TLM is known for breaking barriers and pushing the boundaries of what is possible inside prison. As the most innovative program in the country, we pride ourselves in our ability to inspire others to follow in our footsteps. At TLM, we are not only training the next generation of coders, but leaders in their community. We hope that all returned citizens can share the message of second chances, pave the road for future graduates, and become beacons of hope within their community.
- Transforming the way people think about justice reform
- Being bold and innovative
- Pushing boundaries of what is possible
- Paving the road for others to follow
Innovation as it relates to technology and justice reform means developing new strategies to adapt to the constant changes and new markets.
- Working in incarcerated spaces means developing creative solutions with limited resources
- Technology is always changing. To provide cutting edge innovation, we need to stay current and flexible to the market.
In the Fall of 2010 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 more, 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 mass incarceration in the United States, and find a path to help resolve our daunting problem.
Beverly agreed to join Chris on a journey to create The Last Mile (TLM). Since its inception, TLM has generated a groundswell of support for justice reform across the United States. Never before has there been a cooperative, non-partisan effort like TLM to curb the problem of mass incarceration.
Imagine if we could invest in breaking the cycle of incarceration: rather than spending tax dollars on keeping the incarcerated population behind bars, we could re-allocate investment in education, providing opportunities for youth in underserved communities who turn to crime to survive. The impact of one person’s incarceration is felt by families and communities for decades.
The Last Mile believes jobs are the key to breaking the cycle of incarceration. Our mission is to provide marketable skills that lead to employment. Our program provides in-prison career training with mentorship upon release.
TLM began as an intensive 6-month entrepreneurship program at San Quentin, in which men learned to use their passion to create a business that integrates a technology component with a social cause. Students gave pitch presentations at The Last Mile Demo Day in front of 350 guests from the Bay Area business community . Many have said it’s the most rewarding day of their life.
Through the process, they learned 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 internet access.
Because incarcerated people are legally denied access to the Internet, programs are taught without connectivity. To overcome this challenge we created a proprietary programming platform that simulates a live coding experience. We imagine an industry in which software engineers who are judged by the quality of their code, not by the stigma of incarceration.
It is predicted that there will be a shortfall of 1 million software engineering jobs in 2020. The TLM Alumni, who are released graduates, will be perfectly positioned to leverage this opportunity and support our mission to reduce recidivism by attaining gainful employment.
In 2016 we launched TLM Works web development shop inside San Quentin to employ graduates as software engineers, a Joint Venture program with CalPIA.
The Last Mile students are selected through a careful vetting process which includes essay application, in person interview, and a technical assessment. As TLM participants, students must attend class at least 4 days a week, 8 hours a day for each of TLM’s two tracks. Each track consist of modules spanning 2-3 weeks each, 6 months total. A successful graduate has completed a full year of coding training with a satisfactory overall grade in the class.
Applicants to The Last Mile must meet the following minimum criteria*:
- Have a high school diploma, or high school equivalency.
- Have at least 12 months and not more than 36 months remaining on their sentence.
- Have no infractions on record for the prior 18 months.
- Do not have a Life Without Possibility for Parole sentence.
- Have no prior record for:
- Sex crimes
- Cyber crime
Ideal candidates have:
- History of prison programs and leadership roles
- Interest in technology and entrepreneurship
- Participation in college classes or degrees (if available at facility)
- Recommendations from institutional administration or education faculty
*Note: Applicant qualifications may differ based on institution’s population. TLM criteria is derived from experience leveraging our reentry support network. Variances are possible. If variances are needed, reentry services are not guaranteed.
Interested candidates must complete the following steps before approval:
- Essay application
- In-person interview
- Technical assessment
If selected for the program, The Last Mile retains a zero-tolerance policy for students participating and reserves the right to dismiss students from the course. Any 115’s, major violations, and behavior that is not consistent with TLM values, while in TLM programs can result in dismissal from class.
- Facility: Any institution where incarcerated people reside.
- Returned Citizen: A formerly incarcerated individual.
- TLM Student: Any currently incarcerated individual enrolled as a student in one of The Last Mile programs and tracks at any current facility.
- TLM Young Adults: Individuals (aged 18-23) incarcerated at youth/juvenile facilities and currently enrolled in TLM Programs.
- TLM Graduate: A graduated TLM Student who is currently incarcerated.
- TLM Works Employee: A TLM Graduate who currently works for the TLM / CalPIA Joint Venture
- TLM Works: A Joint Venture between CalPIA and The Last Mile that employs TLM Graduates in a web development shop inside San Quentin State Prison serving clients with complex custom development needs.
- TLM Alumni: A Returned Citizen who has graduated The Last Mile technology or entrepreneurial programs.
- TLM Participant: A Returned Citizen who has participated in or completed individual tracks of the TLM programs but did not graduate the program due to non-behaviour issues (program closed, early release, etc.).
- Players: TLM team, Facilitators, Mentors, Volunteers, Students, Instructors, Guest Speakers, TLM Graduate Employers, TLM Works Clients.
- Mass Incarceration: This phenomenon refers to the current American experiment in incarceration, which is defined by comparatively and historically extreme rates of imprisonment and by the concentration of imprisonment among young, African American men living in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. ( Oxford Bibliographies )
- Recidivism: The tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.
- Demo Day: Presentation at the culmination of TLM tracks, where students present their portfolio/ projects.
- HTML: Hypertext Markup Language, a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages.
- Python: Python is an interpreted, object-oriented programming language similar to PERL, that has gained popularity because of its clear syntax and readability.
- CSS: CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS describes how HTML elements are to be displayed on screen, paper, or in other media.
- Code.7370 (“Code Seven-Three-Seven-Oh): TLM’s partnership with CALPIA for our coding program at San Quentin.
- Capstone: At the end of each Track, TLM students final project is a “capstone” website they can add to their portfolio.
- Freedom Trail: The Last Mile’s traditional, annual right of passage climb up Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, CA for TLM graduates. At the very top, emotionally and physically exhausted graduates sprint the last leg as the TLM team and volunteers cheer them on.
- TLM Radio: TLM produces with SiriusXM a weekly, one hour radio show.
- Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their programming knowledge, and build their careers.
- Joint Venture Program (Joint Venture): Public/partnership between TLM and CalPIA. More information can be found here: https://cbig.ca.gov/Government-Partners/CALPIA-Joint-Venture-Program
- CalPIA: California Prison Industry Authority manages over 100 manufacturing, service, and consumable industries within the 34 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation institutions. It is overseen by the 11-member Prison Industry Board, which is chaired by the CDCR Secretary.
- API: An application program interface (API) is code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other.
- CALPIA: California Prison Industry Authority
- CCWF: Central California Women’s Facility
- CDCR: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
- CIW: California Institute for Women – Corona
- CVSP: Chuckawalla State Prison
- EDD: Employment Development Department
- ISP: Indiana State Prison
- IWP: Indiana Women’s Prison
- TLM: The Last Mile
- TLMW: The Last Mile Works
- VYCF: Ventura Youth Correctional Facility
- PBSP: Pelican Bay State Prison
- PO: Parole Officer
- SQ: San Quentin
- FWF: Folsom Women’s Facility
- UX: User Experience
- UI: User Interface