CORONA, Calif. - The 24 women working diligently in a computer classroom are banking on their success. What they're learning could lead to a productive life once they're released from the California Institution for Women in Corona.
Inmate Maria Salazar said the program is important to her. "For me personally, this my third time in prison. And I actually feel going through this program is going to help me get a job and I won't be coming back to prison," Salazar said.
The program is run by an organization called "The Last Mile." San Quentin State Prison has already had inmates graduate from the program and find jobs after their release.
According to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the directors of the program, once released, not one prisoner that went through this course has returned to prison.
"Part of being a software engineer is about what you produce, not what your background is. And you can also work remotely," said Christopher Redlitz, one of the co-founders of the program.
The women are being taught to be web designers. They're given the tools they will need to be able to compete for high-paying jobs.
"If they want to launch their own online business, they have the ability to create their own website. So they have the skills to get a job, they have the skills to work independently," said The Last Mile co-founder Beverly Parenti.
The inmates said there was a tough screening process, then an interview. After that, a committee made up of the instructor and prison administration decides who gets in.
Inmate Staci Blanton became emotional when she talked about much the program means to her. "I've told my children that I'm doing this and they're so proud. And they haven't been proud of me in a very long time. So now I hope to become self-sufficient and be able to just spoil my grandchildren," Blanton said.