HuffPost Live! It’s like TRL for the adult generation’s workday. Recently, I watched a delightfully inspiring interview about the Last Mile program, which teaches business and entrepreneurial skills to current inmates at San Quentin prison. They’re mentored to find employment in a paid internship program, and encouraged to pitch ideas for startups. Ever hear that a great idea can come from anywhere? That’s what co-founder Chris Redlitz is thinking. That, and technology can give people a second chance.
During the interview, he speaks to challenges he hopes the Last Mile program will help overcome. Specifically, the high cost of incarceration ($50k per inmate, per year, according to Redlitz) and the high recidivism rate (over 60%). Both are bad investments for California tax payers, and the Last Mile hopes to help reduce both. Plus, if Redlitz can help prisoners leave jail with a purpose, he’s done his job.
Also during the interview, graduate of the program Tulio Cardoza speaks about Collaborative Benefit, the startup he founded upon his release. It’s a LinkedIn-type social network for those formerly and currently incarcerated. It adapts the LinkedIn experience, allowing its users to find internships and receive mentorship, post-release. Programs like Tulio’s are receiving a great response. Another that’s currently in the works is called Teen Tech Hub, a non-profit after-school program that makes technology more accessible to inner-city teenagers.
Great! But… what about women? I scoured their site, read plenty of articles and surfed around Google. The only pronouns I found were male. Unless I’m missing something, the Last Mile makes no efforts to include women – nor apologies for their lack thereof. During the 23-minute interview, the inclusion of women was not even addressed once. Interestingly, Redlitz’s co-founder is a female, Beverly Parenti. Speak up, girlfriend! Us Gigglers know females are just as capable and deserve the same opportunities as males. I understand there may be extra limitations and difficulties when working with women in the penal system, but it would be nice to see the program open up to both sexes. As it continues to expand, I hope women will quickly become integrated.
Regardless, this is still a beneficial program and I hope to see its success grow – especially to include women. The Last Mile team is currently creating a curriculum they can hand over to other facilities nationwide. They want to make it available to as many places as possible. Because, why not? Redlitz and his team hopes to help as many people as possible succeed. You never know where the next big idea will come from.
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