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The Last Mile Programme - finding hope in prison

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by Startacus Admin

San Quentin prison in California may seem like an unlikely place to find budding entrepreneurs. The very idea of it may seem like a joke to some. “These men are given training on how to run a business, when I’ve had my idea turned down so often?”

Think of it like this. About fifty per cent of criminals, when they get out of prison, won’t be able to get a job. This may be because of difficulty readjusting to normal to society (from which the scheme derives its name) or, more commonly, there being an inherent prejudice against prior offenders. Whatever the reason, this social wall leads to a significantly higher risk of reoffending that culminates in more damage, more expense and more wasted opportunities. (On that very subject - check out our interview with UK prison scheme Startup Now for a little inspiration). 

The Last Mile is a scheme which was created to give many of those who had utterly lost hope – and thus, a large motivator to change their ways – anThe Last Mile San Quentin Prison output for their ideas and to give them new purpose in life. It involves a very select group of men who have proven repeatedly a desire to improve themselves intellectually and emotionally, and whose plans could create a business that involves a form of technology and will have social benefits.

The long term goal is that when these individuals get out, their transition back to normality will be smoother and paved with intent and clear goals. More than that, given their backgrounds, there is a hope that they will be more inclined to hire other ex-convicts and pass the sense of purpose along.

The programme provides the men with the opportunity to discuss their plans with technological experts, as well as create a brand – described as going beyond their ‘prisoner’ label – for themselves through social media. This feat is all the more impressive given the fact that they do not actually have internet access, and must hand write blogs, tweets and the like, which are in turn uploaded by volunteers.

If you’re still doubtful about the scheme, I’d encourage you to watch the below video of The Final Mile’s graduation day, at which their entire business idea is condensed into a five minute presentation for a live audience of outside guests and other inmates. Their passion for their ideas is clear and the pitches themselves presented with the utmost professionalism. Inspirational.

The hope it inspires is obvious, and the potential social benefits, even more so.

Written by Ethan Loughrey

The Last Mile

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Published on: 12th March 2013

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