New program teaches prisoners how to code

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Michigan becomes fifth state to introduce "The Last Mile" at Parnall Correctional Facility

Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– Google.org and The Last Mile announced a new coding program which launched at Michigan’s Vocational Village at Parnall Correctional Facility.

The program was founded by Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitz in 2010 and first implemented at the San Quentin State Prison in California.

“The amount of money we were spending at the time to keep someone incarcerated was around 65,000 a year and the spending on prison was five times more than on higher education,” Parenti said.

The idea came after Redlitz was invited to speak to a group of men about business and entrepreneurship.

“I didn’t have any sort of understanding of what was happening inside prison,” Redlitz said, but what he saw was men with business knowledge and a desire to learn.

Michigan is now the fifth state in the U.S. to incorporate the program, but Redlitz said interest is fast growing.

“We are really in an expansion mode today. We have a long list of states that are interested, but we’re doing it very methodically and growing and making sure that we maintain the quality of the program which is really important,” Redlitz said.

And for inmates like John Mannion and Nicholas Herrick who have just 18 months left in their sentence, they look forward to the opportunities The Last Mile will bring them.

“Without this, you know I’d have to go to school out there so this gives me the chance to hit the ground running as far as finding an occupation,” Mannion said.

“Not just the different job opportunities, it’s the confidence that it gives me in myself and so I know that I can succeed in being a father, succeed in being a son, a brother,” Herrick said.

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