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Inmates learn programming- for good jobs after release

AZ Corrections coding course preps good incomes
Posted at 7:46 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 13:20:10-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - It is a story of high tech------and hope.

The Arizona Department of Corrections offers inmates a program that trains inmates for a brighter future, with the jobs of the future as computer programmers.

When they've served their time, inmates at the Whetstone Prison Unit in Tucson could be released into a world where the main opportunities could be to commit crimes again.

But some inmates are learning to program their way to good jobs as software developers.

Jonathan Nettles says before this program he never considered working with computers.

“I was kind of just spinning my wheels and working on one dead end job to the next and now I feel like actually have a shot to succeed in the future to make sure I never come back and have a full set career path.”

Program managers say that career path could start at 35 to 50 thousand dollars a year. Inmates need to have a clean discipline record. Their education can range from High School dropout to graduate degree and they need the drive to become a positive part of society.

Karen Hellman directs inmate re-entry programs for the Arizona Department of Corrections. She says, “We want people to get out a different path, making different choices, able to support themselves, their families pay taxes, like you and I pay."

Once inmates walk out of the gates, they will be walking into a working world at least a little more receptive to hiring people who have served prison time. Governments and some companies do not automatically exclude people who've been in prison.

And these students they'll have learned to re-program themselves with the life skills to be a good hire.

Inmate Benjamin Fry says he’s learned: "Patience, and problem solving and team playing. What I don't know somebody else absolutely does."

And the organization they write into their software helps them bring the discipline to their lives that can keep them from coming back to prison.