Mass Incarceration

Currently, there are over 2 million individuals behind bars in county jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries. To put this into another perspective, more than one in one-hundred adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five are behind bars in the US. This number does not even include many millions more who are on parole or probation and are still part of the correctional system.

While multiple factors contribute to the high incarceration rate in the United States, this problems is exacerbated by high rate of recidivism for those who are released. Approximately 650,000 incarcerated individuals are released every year from state and federal correctional facilities. According to a research reported by the Department of Justice, 67.8% of the former inmates were arrested again within 3 years of their release and 76.6% within 5 years.


Studies show that there is a powerful relationship between unemployment and recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals. Locked out of gainful employment opportunities, many formerly incarcerated individuals fall back to substance abuse or engage in criminal activities. Up to 60% of formerly incarcerated individuals remain jobless a year after their release due to their criminal records and lack of employable skills. Yet, according to a 2008 research report by the Urban Institute, individuals who made more than $10 an hour were half as likely to return to prison as those making less than $7 an hour. This is where the hope lies.

Mass incarceration is not only one of the largest humanitarian crises, it is also one that has severe economic consequences. According to a report published by the Pew Center in 2011, the growth in prison population in America came with a substantial cost, with annual State and Federal expenditures on corrections growing by 305% during past two decades, to the tune of $52 billion. If 10 states with the highest recidivism rates reduced their rates by 10%, they could save more than $470 million a year.


We empower returning citizens to transform their lives by educating them in high-tech skills and preparing them for careers in high-tech industries for successful re-entry into society.
Started as an initiative under The Educational Justice Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Coders Beyond Bars, Inc. (CBB) is a not-for-profit organization in Massachusetts with the mission of providing incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn skills in software development and preparing them for successful entry into careers in high-tech industries. Read More
Ed McAdams
Ed McAdams

Former Headmaster at School of Reentry
Boston Pre-release Center

It has been impressive to see the interest and investment by our students in this coders program. They are fully engaged and motivated in the learning process. The technical skills that they are learning, along with the collaboration required to work through projects will serve our students well in the future.

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