In brief: One of the main aims of prisons is to prevent inmates from committing more crimes after their release. But with so many of those inside lacking the necessary skills to hold down a job, the national reoffending rate in the US is 55 percent. A new program in the UK looks to address this problem by teaching prisoners code.
The country’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a £100,000 ($132,384) award to fund the Code4000 project in two prisons initially and an employment hub, which provides additional help and training for inmates upon leaving prison.
The inmates will work on real-world projects for external clients, with the money earned getting reinvested back into the project. The third stage will see them working for clients on temporary day release, which will hopefully help them find developer jobs.
“This project has changed my life,” said a prisoner who took part in the program’s trial. “In a time of uncertainty and stress, I was handed a lifeline. I have never been so sure before now of what I wanted from life and how I was going to achieve it. I am not even worried about employment on release anymore. I'm going to smash it.”
The program is modeled on the San Quentin prison’s Last Mile project, which helps prisoners build their technology skills so they can find work once their sentence is up. It has helped over 500 ex-convicts get jobs, none of whom have reoffended.
With reoffending in the UK costing around £15 billion and many of the country’s prisons over capacity, it’s easy to see why the government is pinning its hopes on Code4000, which so far has a 100 percent success rate when it comes to preventing reoffending.