Here’s the prison Mark Zuckerberg visited that teaches inmates how to code

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Just last week, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, visited San Quentin, a prison near Silicon Valley that teaches some of its inmates how to code.

This visit comes after he read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” which details the relationship between the “war on drugs,” racism, and mass incarceration in the US. Zuckerberg went to San Quentin to see what “prison conditions are like for people,” he wrote in Facebook post.

Through a San Francisco-based bootcamp called Code.7370, inmates are selected to learn how to program. It was created by venture capitalist Chris Redlitz who gave entrepreneurship talks at the facility via the nonprofit he founded,The Last Mile, made to help reduce recidivism rate and former inmates re-enter the workforce.

According to prison officials, programs like the ones San Quentin prison leads have a 7.1% recidivism, USA Today reported. That’s compared to a 54.3% rate for the general population in California.

Clarification: This article initially cited last year’s recidivism rate for California. The article has been updated with this year’s rate.


This is San Quentin Prison, located about 20 miles from South of Market, home to many of San Francisco’s startups.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

After one of his talks at the prison, Redlitz was “so impressed by the men’s level of business knowledge and desire to learn” that he began to work on making a “technology accelerator.”

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The Last Mile


The Last Mile was then founded as a 6-month program to help men turn their passions into business ideas. Upon completion, guests were invited to hear inmates pitch ideas.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The Last Mile


In 2014, The Last Mile launched Code.7370, where men learn HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Python.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Because internet access is prohibited in the prison, inmates instead learn code through a programming service that simulates coding.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The state of California pays about $60,000 a year for Code.7370, reports USA Today.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

USA Today


But only a select few will receive the opportunity take these classes. Of the 200 who applied for one of the programs, only 23 were chosen to participate, organizers told VICE News.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

VICE News


After being selected, one inmate wrote in a Quora thread: “I must admit that I am very glad to be one of the privileged participants for this ground breaking, one of a kind coding program. Nonetheless, at this point I must contain my enthusiasm because I am well aware that having been selected is only a micro-step toward the challenge yet to come.”

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Quora


Here, prisoners sit and listen to speeches as a class graduates from Code.7370. The hope is that they will have the skills necessary to be marketable to employees.

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Reuters

Redlitz expects the classes to further teach data visualization as well as web and design in coming years.

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The Last Mile