Code/Out started as a dream which was created out of necessity. I needed a job, and I wanted one that allowed me to create change in people’s lives for the better. After participating in some social justice processes – death penalty reform and victim/offender mediation (you can read on that process HERE) – I realized that creating relationships inside the prison system and building change there is where I want to be. So here I am.
My goal is to go into a prison or a transition center and teach women how to code, starting with the basics and working toward helping these women be employable in tech. It will be no small feat. Hell, it isn’t an easy thing for even privileged college kids to learn, so teaching women who’ve had their lives shat on will be difficult too. And I know you may be thinking, “Those women aren’t victims, they’re criminals!” and it is easy to try and make the world black and white that way. If they’re in prison then THEY are the offenders, right? If only the world were that easy!
According 2017 Georgia Inmate Profile, over half of the women currently in Georgia’s prison system have been physically abused in their lifetime. At some point, either as children or adults, these women have suffered from physical violence resulting in trauma. While there is some overlap, over half the women have also suffered from sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime. That means, even with an overlap, 65-75% of Georgia’s female population has endured abuses (either physical or sexual or both) at some point in their lifetime.
Trauma isn’t an excuse for crime, obviously, but it makes a person’s life much more difficult than it has to be. Trauma sets the stage for mental illness, drug abuse and maladjusted behavior; the vast majority of women in our prisons were victims long before they committed their first crime. Seeing this reality and understanding the systemic injustices these women face, we seek to create a pathway to correcting that wrong.
Fully correcting these social wrongs isn’t completely possible; but we, as an organization, can make efforts to give these women the life they could have had if those injustices had not been perpetrated against them. That means more than job training; it means forming relationships and learning how to care for each other in community. It means support for mental illness and past drug addictions and it means providing a pathway to employment that is both sustainable and achievable.
To empower women to break out of the cycles of recidivism, which is the tendency for convicted felons to reoffend, we have started Code/Out. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of recidivism and poverty for the women in Georgia’s prison system and their children. By working with the Prison Education System and by taking advantage of opportunities in technology we are going to teach women how to code. This will give them the skills and confidence to enter the technology workforce throughout Georgia. With our corporate partnerships we are building a willing network of employers eager to integrate these determined women into their ranks.
Join in and Code/Out!