Almost everyone knows a family member, a friend or an acquaintance in an assisted living center or care facility who has been impacted by COVID-19 quarantining.
Jason Jones spent nearly 14 years incarcerated. After learning how to code in prison, he now uses his experience to educate others on how coding can improve social mobility and prevent re-offending.
As someone who spent the majority of his young adult life in prison, Jason Jones knows firsthand the difficulties of trying to re-enter society after incarceration.
Jones was swept into gang activity at a young age following a difficult childhood, which culminated in him being sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison in 2005. It wasn’t until 2014, while spending time at California’s San Quentin Prison, that Jones was introduced to computer programming through a friend, who advised the then 30-year-old Jones that turning his efforts to coding might offer a practical means of staying out of trouble.
“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Jones tells TechRepublic, adding that a disciplinary infraction upon arriving at San Quentin resulted in him spending his first 10 months confined to his cell for nearly 23 hours a day.
Fast forward to today, and Jones has long since left his turbulent younger years behind him. Now 36 years old, Jones helps deliver software engineering training to incarcerated individuals in prison facilities all over the US.
The Last Mile is an education and entrepreneurial program that teaches coding, software design and other marketable skills in prison facilities across the US, in order to help create career pathways for individuals when they re-enter society. Founded by Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti in 2010, the program has served over 650 students to date, and is today the most widely sought-after educational program within US prisons.
Like many young men from similar backgrounds, Jones didn’t have a
Residents have often been unable to receive visitors or take part in the programming or activities that enrich their lives. For some the mental and physical toll has been dramatic.
It’s easy to sympathize with them, and their struggles have received media attention.
A group affected every bit as much as many senior citizens – though easier to ignore and, perhaps, harder to sympathize with – is prison inmates.
Group living arrangements have been an easy place for COVID to spread – whether it’s senior housing or fraternities and sororities on campus. But perhaps even more dangerous is the spread possible among inmates in the custody of the corrections department.
Though slow at first, COVID testing in prisons has accelerated. And so have infections.
As a response, prison officials have taken the prudent steps to separate inmates, isolate them, curtail visitation and halt programming.
While these moves have potential to help control the spread of COVID among inmates and the community at large via visitors, they aren’t without their impacts.