The Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility is preparing to graduate more teenagers from its The Last Mile coding program.
The program teaches technology and business skills to men, women and teens behind bars with the hope of giving them a better chance at a success when they leave.
On Thursday, two teens presented their capstone project, showing the websites and games they created in a showcase of their new abilities. For those enrolled in the course like Isaiah Castro, the capstone project also represents a water-shed moment in their lives.
“I never thought I could do any of this. If I didn’t realize what a big opportunity this was for me, I would’ve stayed the same kid and possibly got locked back up for my childish mistakes.” Castro said.
The young men involved in The Last Mile say the program is the second chance they’ve always needed but never had.
“I just thought I’m going to get out, and I’m going to try to do better, try to follow the law, but now I’m going to get out, I’m going to go to college, I’m going to save money, I’m going to start my career, and I never really thought I’d come to this,” Levi Johnson said.
Officials at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional say the teens are not only finding success inside the program but outside as well. Recidivism rates for those in The Last Mile are 0%.
“Just to know that they see that they have a future now, to know that they see the possibilities, it makes me so proud of them. Just giving them hope give us, the staff, the encouragement to continue doing what we do on a daily basis,” Warden Angela Sutton said.
Johnson and Castro say once they’re released from the juvenile facility, they plan to attend another coding school. Booth teens say they eventually hope to work at a company like Google or Microsoft.