Persevere, a nonprofit that offers coding classes for justice-impacted individuals and places them in tech jobs, is the focus of a 22-minute segment airing on several of E.W. Scripps’ local television stations across the U.S. “Cracking the Code to Success” can be viewed on weekends through October. Scripps reporter Jessie Cohen and her crew visited Persevere’s operations in Memphis, Tennessee. They interviewed inmates in Persevere’s coding program at West Tennessee State Penitentiary, justice-impacted individuals in its transition home who are now working in tech jobs, and officials from Tennessee Department of Corrections about their decision to offer coding education in prisons and the successes they are witnessing. Persevere Founder Sean Hosman and Regional Director Stacey Books, both of whom at one time were caught up in the criminal justice system, are also featured.
“We are truly honored to have this incredible opportunity to create more awareness of how Persevere is positively transforming prisons and the lives of inmates. We are giving them hope and opportunity with a valuable job skill like coding, coupled with the comprehensive reentry services we provide,” says Sean Hosman, Persevere’s founder. “Persevere began in Tennessee, so it’s where we have the most comprehensive services and the most historical data regarding outcomes. We have significantly reduced recidivism by teaching a skill for which there are abundant, high-paying jobs, and support our students every step of the way. Thanks to the success in Tennessee, we have been able to take Persevere to other states with the goal of being in all fifty.”
Tennessee has a recidivism (the tendency for criminals to re-offend) rate of 36.3 percent, while the recidivism rate of students graduating from Persevere currently sits at just 1.8 percent. Because the children of incarcerated people are seven times more likely to become justice impacted, Persevere is committed to breaking this multigenerational cycle. Their instructors are teaching the children of those in prison or on probation or parole to code as well. Persevere is also helping to increase diversity in web development and coding employment, having graduated many minority and women students from the program.
“We are excited and fortunate to have partnered with the Persevere program within our institutions and now available to TDOC offenders on Community Supervision and their children,” says April Buckner, Correctional Administrator Rehabilitative Services – West Region for the Tennessee Department of Corrections. “Not only does this program teach an in-demand skillset, but the job opportunities are endless for these students. We are also bringing families together by allowing the children to participate. It has given a lot of hope to the individuals enrolled, and we have seen several success stories come through this program.”
“Cracking the Code to Success” is now airing on weekends through October on the E.W. Scripps stations listed below (it can be viewed by downloading the station apps on the following devices: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or the Android App on the Google Play Store). The segment can also be seen here.