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Last Mile program helping Montana inmates re-enter society with coding skills

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 12:55:10-04

DEER LODGE - A web development class is available for inmates at the Montana State Prison.

The inmates hope that once they complete the training, they’ll get out and find a good job. And hopefully, never return.

“I’m going to have skills that are high in demand, I’m going to be able to impact the World Wide Web and get paid to do what I love,” said inmate Bruce Garay.

Gov. Greg Gianforte cut the ribbon on The Last Mile program at the Montana State Prison, which is a year-long computer coding and web design class funded by the Gianforte Family Foundation.

The program gives inmates training to better help them enter the workplace after release from prison.

The governor said the skills they learn could result in a high-paying job.

“It’s not going to solve all the problems, but it makes a lot of them go away. Ultimately, it will mean you can thrive on the outside and not see the inside of this place again,” said Gianforte.

Many of the 22 inmates enrolled in the first class said they’ve never had any computer training, but they’re grateful for the opportunity to learn a new skill.

“When I do graduate this and I go past that, there’s not going to be any limitations. The only limitations are going to be set on myself and my education as far as I push it,” said Garay.

The class is one year-long and between 24 and 40 hours a week.

“Staying busy all the time, it’s good to stay busy all the time too, you know, it makes time fly,” said inmate Gordon Redwolf.

The non-profit Last Mile program is in 16 facilities in six states.

“I am extremely humbled and inspired by the hope and resilience I see from people in our classroom coming back into a society that has a lot of challenges,” said The Last Mile Director Sydney Heller.

Many inmates in the program are ready to face that challenge.

“I think it’s awesome, I’m glad I’m here, I feel like there’s some hope and light at the end of the tunnel now. I’m looking forward to the future now instead of dreading it,” said inmate Matthew Knox.