COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – Seven female inmates of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) received full-stack certification in software development on Friday.
The training was provided by Persevere Now, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit built on carrying inmates from prison to prosperity.
Training began in January of 2020 and was originally set to be a 12-month program. But after three prison lockdowns due to COVID-19, the course was extended to 14 nonconsecutive months.
“Even during quarantine, [Persevere Now] would bring out books to us so we could study. It was very challenging, but it taught us to be humble,” said a graduate.
This inmate was incarcerated in 2005 and is set to be released this December. She reportedly starts an apprenticeship in January of 2023.
“Before this program, I was very passive. But it taught me the difference between aggressive and assertive. Now, I choose to be assertive. A leader, not a follower,” continued the graduate.
While the program started with 100 inmates, over 90 percent either dropped out or were released from prison before completion.
Six inmates received their certificate of completion from Preserve Now during a commencement ceremony in the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution. Four former inmates celebrated remotely.
“They’re starting their careers here in prison. Which is amazing considering they ended up here for breaking the law. It’s hopeful for me, hopeful for the department and hopeful for the state,” said SCDC Director Bryan Stirling after the ceremony.
According to SCDC, South Carolinian has a 19.2% recidivism rate which is the lowest in the country.
All but one of the incarcerated graduates will be released from prison and working a computer programming job within the next eight months.
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