[ View the story "From inmates to entrepreneurs " on Storify] From inmates to entrepreneurs Training programme gives California prisoners skills to create tech start-ups.
The Stream· Tue, Feb 26 2013 11:48:21
Here's a video from last year's Demo Day, which explains the expo and highlights the members' projects:
The Last Milelandinimedia
This message from inmate
was shared on The Last Mile's Twitter account ahead of Friday's presentations:
Honing my presentation for Demo Day. Full of nerves and excitement. The big day is getting close. #TWThe LAST MILE
This year's expo
featured app proposals
for fitness buffs, jazz enthusiasts, and even a programme that would help communities redistribute aging produce from grocery stores to local consumers.
@TLM Congratulations on an amazing demo day, men! It was a pleasure to be there. Your pitches were executed wonderfully! Best of luck to allKatie Morrison
The programme features mentoring sessions with entrepreneurial celebrities like performer MC Hammer and new media strategist Brian Solis.
In addition to skills-building, the training programme links California inmates with a global online audience through social media. Though inmates do not have direct access to the internet, they are able to cultivate an online personality by filling out "
", which are then posted by volunteers.
The Last Mile Twitter account signs sent messages with the initials of participating inmates, each of whom are
on the organisation's website.
Looking forward to philosophy class today. Discussing emotions. Gaining insights into myself and the world in this class. #TWThe LAST MILE
Today was my daughter's first day at her new school. I am really proud of her positive attitude toward change. #HHThe LAST MILE
Feeling frustrated by the lack of communication around here. Thinking of ways to change it #CKLThe LAST MILE
Watching the news sometimes I wonder if prison is safer than being out in society. #JLHThe LAST MILE
For me never giving up is not an option, even if my body never gets out of prison my soul will, therefore my destiny is heaven. #DHThe LAST MILE
The inmates are also sharing their experiences via the online forum
. Inmate Thomas Winfrey's response to the Quora question "
What does it feel like to murder someone?
" received almost 2,500 upvotes on the site. Here are excerpts from the post:
When I took another man’s life I was just nineteen years old.quora.com
I am ashamed to admit it, but at the time I felt a great weight was lifted off my shoulders when I pulled the trigger. I felt like I had finally stood up for myself. I was completely irrational.quora.com
Now I feel sadness over murdering someone. I feel I have robbed my victim’s family of the most precious thing in life. I feel immense sorrow for this. I feel I have robbed my family out of truly ever knowing me. I feel like I have created fear in my community. I feel that I have done the world a great disservice, and that I owe a debt that I can never fully repay. I am full of guilt and shame over my actions. I never want anyone else to feel the way I do.quora.com
Rehabilitative programmes like The Last Mile come in the context of overcrowding in California prisons and the state government's
to county-level oversight for low-level offenders, a move considered to be more cost-effective.
The Last Mile is designed to reduce risk of recidivism, and increase the return on state funding invested in the prison system.
Last Mile co-founder Beverly Parenti lamented that “20 years in prison cost $1 million, but inmates are released with no training.” That leads many to wind up back in jail. “It’s a really bad investment,”techcrunch.com
Last Mile co-founders Chris Parenti and Beverly Redlitz, who founded the project in 2011, discuss their work at
TEDx San Diego
From Lock-up to Startup Affect/Awareness: Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitzat TEDxSanDiego 2012TEDxTalks