The Last Mile: Silicon Valley’s Response to a 700% Increase in the United States’ Prison Population Since 1970
As Tom Silver claims in the Harvard Political Review article, Breaking Out of the Prison Cycle, there is nothing remarkable about such a headline. It is a story that has been covered for decades by a multitude of journalistic organizations. Silver goes on to say that high recidivism rates are partially to blame for high cost, and that recidivism is “due in part to the difficulty that ex-convicts face in reentering the job market.” Few correctional education programs exist because of budgetary constraints, and those which do don’t equip inmates with the skills required in the 21st century job marketplace.
Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti have an answer for this problem. In 2010, they founded The Last Mile, a prison rehabilitation program that aims to reduce recidivism rates and cut national spending on incarceration by providing technology and business education to prisoners.
It is clear that this curriculum, which does not rely on the Internet or other ubiquitous means of technological communication, is effective. I am curious now about its scalable applications. How can it move beyond Silicon Valley? Are there formal post-release processes that can be implemented to better guarantee employment? Is there a way to translate some of this innovative thinking to other public domains, such as under-funded schools without technology curricula?