*M.C. Hammer joined Gov. Eric Holcomb for the launch of The Last Mile program, in which Holcomb challenged the Indiana Department of Corrections to train and graduate 1,000 or more offenders each year into high-demand occupations by 2020.
The program will provide software engineering skills that might lead to potential jobs in the technology sector to female offenders.
“When you get properly trained and then you also learn to adapt to culture, the culture in tech, there’s a strong chance that you won’t return to being a person who’s incarcerated,” Hammer said.
According to Indystar, “Holcomb brought the program to Indiana as part of his 2018 legislative agenda in order to give incarcerated women a chance to learn how to code, and prepare to reenter the workforce upon release with a new valuable skill set.”
There are already employers interested in hiring the offenders that return to the workforce after completing the course.
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“We believe not just in the program, but we believe in you,” Holcomb told the prisoners. “And we share your aspirations, and it is our purpose for being here to make sure that you have the resources so that you do get to determine what your destiny is going to be.”
The Last Mile program was first used in the San Quentin prison in California in an attempt to teach the prisoners employable skills.
(Below is a pic of the Governor’s wife Janet Holcomb, the family dog, Henry Holcomb, and MC Hammer.)
— Henry Holcomb (@FirstDogHenry) April 5, 2018
Kenyatta Leal was among the first to graduate from the course and landed a paid internship at a San Francisco-based technology company when he was released from prison. He went from having a 25-years-to-life sentence to now working in a management capacity.
“Making change inside a prison isn’t easy, but I can tell you right now, I’m living proof that it is possible,” Leal said.
None of the inmates who have completed the course so far have returned to prison after release, and all have landed jobs.
“This is not a smoke and mirrors, no flashing lights,” Hammer said. “The moves are real.”
Stacy Orue, one of the inmates at the prison, said she hopes to be a web developer and eventually an entrepreneur.
“It is so inspiring when the governor said out of his mouth that there would be people seeking me for employment. (It) just completely floored me,” Orue said. “I’m a hard worker and I have worked very hard at change, but to actually know I could be accepted back into society after 15 years is overwhelming.”