And you thought outsourcing to *India* was bad.
SAN QUENTIN, Calif. — California inmates can earn cash making license plates for state residents. Soon they'll be able to get paid for writing code.
In a first for the country, prisoners at San Quentin State Prison are being considered for jobs as computer programmers. If everything goes as planned, they will work on projects for private businesses, all from inside the prison's walls.
Officials at San Quentin, located just miles but a world away from the heart of San Francisco's technology industry, made the announcement as the first group of inmates graduated from Code.7370, a new course that teaches the basics of coding.
Step 1: Have prisoners work on high-paying jobs, thus earning more money
Step 2: Organize a system where prisoners are scammed out of their earnings and there's nothing they can do about it
Step 3: Profit
The whole American prison system is disgusting. But then again, that's the case with most prison systems.
The sad thing is there's already a better solution: pay cards. They're like debit cards, but in most states there are restrictions on the fees, for example, you get at least one free withdrawal, no monthly fees, no closing-account fees, and so on.
Sure, they're not nearly as good as a regular bank account, but the bank has to be able to make some money, somehow, on the account, and pay cards generally strike a balance that doesn't rip the user off. (I was involved in implementing a pay card interface to a bank years ago in a payroll software application, so I learned a bit about the rules.)
We had this in Arizona thirty years ago. There were just a few of us programming in the Department of Transportation, and some of the workload slack was taken up by the Department of Corrections in just this manner. The arguments in favor of it included training the inmates to become useful contributing members of society when they finished serving their time, plus they could be encouraged to keep at it for hours longer than anyone who had somewhere else to be without having to pay them anything extra (capitalizing on the OCD element).
The downside was the same as with any student programmers: they worked to solve the problem at hand, never giving a moment's thought to the idea that their programs were going to have to be maintained by someone later. As a result, any program that came from a prisoner was better scrapped and rewritten from the ground up than patched in any way.
Reading material for the ios developers among them.
The downside was the same as with any student programmers: they worked to solve the problem at hand, never giving a moment's thought to the idea that their programs were going to have to be maintained by someone later.
That's a strangely literal inversion of the concept of coding for maintainability by imagining that the person maintaining it is a serial killer who knows where you live.