Walking through the yard at California's historic San Quentin State Prison, the oldest in the state, it's difficult to keep movie clichés from popping into one's head.
Surrounded by high barbed-wire-topped walls and amidst groups of men playing basketball and doing push-ups under a blue sky, a line from the quintessential 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption" came to mind. In the film, Tim Robbins' character Andy Dufresne, falsely imprisoned for murder, extols the virtue of hope upon his prison pal Red, played by Morgan Freeman. "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
For a select group of motivated inmates at San Quentin, located just outside of San Francisco, hope comes in the form of an intrepid non-profit called The Last Mile, which is teaching convicts how to code and working with Silicon Valley companies to give hardened criminals a shot at success once they're released.