MCLOUD, Okla. – When inmates are released from prison, it can often be difficult to find their way back to society.
Now, a state-of-the-art program hopes to make that transition a little easier for many Oklahoma inmates.
On Monday, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced a new coding program for inmates to help them obtain careers in technology once they have served their time at the Mabel Bassett Correcitonal Center.
“We believe in second chances in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “As your governor, I’m going to do everything I can to help you get integrated back into society.”
Although inmates aren’t allowed on the internet while incarcerated, a special software program mimics the internet while also giving them a live coding experience.
Participants cannot have a history of cyber or sex crimes, disciplinary infractions for at least 18 months and no life-without-parole sentences. They also must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be within 36 months of release.
The computer coding program is available to inmates at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center thanks to The Last Mile, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation.
The program is only available at 10 prisons in the United States.
“This program gives our inmates something many have never had before – something to be proud of,” DOC Director Joe Allbaugh said. “With the skills this program imparts, these students can leave their felony past behind, no longer be defined by it, and become functioning, participating members of society.”
Students will be trained during two six-month segments, and graduates can get real-life work experience and earn pay while still in prison through The Last Mile Works.
The Last Mile partners with tech companies to employ graduates after their release. The program has served nearly 500 students to date, and those students have a zero-percent recidivism rate.