EDSURGE: Hacking Out of Prison

Career College Central Summary:

  • “Javascript is like learning a foreign language on another planet,” exclaims student Larnel Wolfe. He and his classmates sit attentively at their desks as Marcus Phillips, co-founder of Hack Reactor and instructor of the day’s Code.7370 class, demonstrates how to build an interactive online version of Tic-Tac-Toe.
  • Although this tableau may seem familiar to many aspiring computer programmers, Wolfe’s experience stands out from others: in addition to being Hack Reactor coding camp students, Wolfe and his 17 classmates are inmates at San Quentin State Prison.
  • For eight hours a day, four days a week, the 18 students in Code.7370 come to class in California’s oldest prison (and the only one that conducts executions for male inmates). They learn coding through project-based sprints, like their peers at Hack Reactor in San Francisco, 20 miles south. The program, developed by nonprofit The Last Mile and the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), aims to provide inmates with job skills and prospects both within and outside of prison.

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