Last Mile training program extended in Indiana

Submitted photoSECOND CHANCE: Students involved in the Last Mile program at the Juvenile Correctional Facility at Pendleton show Gov. Eric Holcomb their work.

Indiana inmates will get a boost in developing skills to help them find jobs and build a new life thanks to a grant from Google.org.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who announced the grant Tuesday, said he was “beyond thrilled to be growing this life-changing program,” called “The Last Mile” and which focuses on technology and business training.

“Now, with the help of Google.org, even more offenders will leave prison able to return to the workforce with the valuable skills world-class companies like Google are looking for. The Last Mile program really starts the first mile of the rest of their new life,” he said.

Indiana will share in a $2 million grant that will help inmates in several states. The money will be used to buy new computers, audio-visual equipment and other electronic devices at the Indiana Women’s Prison, which began The Last Mile program earlier this year. In addition, it will be used to support the launch of Indiana’s first coding program for incarcerated juveniles at the Juvenile Correctional Facility at Pendleton.

The Last Mile will educate and certify 525 incarcerated youth, women, and men nationwide over the next two years in a variety of business and technology areas, including entrepreneurship, front-end coding, web and mobile app development and design in its prison classrooms, including this expansion toIndiana, and Oklahoma and Kansas in 2019.

Research shows education is key to reducing recidivism. Incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education are 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners whodidn’t participate in any correctional education programs.

“This effort between Google.org and The Last Mile is a significant milestone,” said Beverly Parenti,executive director of The Last Mile. “The grant enables TLM to increase the number of citizens returning back to society with meaningful job skills and ultimately reducing recidivism.”

One of the group’s success stories is Jason Jones, a software engineer and former inmate of San Quentin State Prison, went through the program during the last few years of his 13-year sentence. He is now two months out of prison and has a job thanks to the coding skills he learned through the program.

“Since graduating from the Last Mile, I signed a contract with a tech company that was interested in my success, and I relocated to a better place for growth and prosperity,” said Jones in a letter to students. “I’ve faced a lot of adversity in my life, but coding gave me a different approach to solving problems,” he said. “It taught me how to break down the larger problems into smaller, workable ones and create a workflow that leads to a solution.”

TheStatehouseFile.com is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.