Indiana inmates to learn computer coding in new program

Prison scene. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a new plan Tuesday to teach computer coding to state prisoners.

The goal is to keep former inmates out of jail by giving them tools to succeed.

The program will launch this spring at the Indiana Women’s Prison. Twenty-four inmates will be in the class but the San Francisco-based nonprofit that runs the course, The Last Mile, hopes to expand in Indiana.

Kenyatta Leal was locked up in a California prison when he met his mentor and started The Last Mile. He was released in 2012, earned an internship with a tech. company and is now in a management role.

“I knew nothing about the internet,” Leal said. “If I could learn it, they could learn it too. It just takes hard work, dedication and believing in yourself. Believing in the process.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb said nearly 40 percent of all Indiana inmates become repeat offenders.

“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on our prison system,” Holcomb said. “We could not just be drawing that down but drawing up salaries for people when they leave our prison system for the last time.”

Organizers with The Last Mile said the program will cost between $150,000 and $220,000 dollars to start.

They said some of the money will come from the state and some from private donations, but they would not break down the exact costs.

One co-founder said it will also cost around $5,000 dollars per inmate annually to maintain the program. Inmates don’t have to pay anything.

The governor’s office said they don’t know yet exactly how much the program will cost the state and how much will come from private donations.

The Last Mile said none of their 41 graduates have gone back to prison.