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A Better
Justice System,


Built from the
Inside, Out

What We Do

Woman using a laptop, depicting empowered trainees.

EMPOWER trainees to obtain high wage careers & become change agents upon release

Inmate coding on a computer depicting employment

EMPLOY incarcerated people building technology to improve the justice system

Two inmates using a laptop, learning how to code.

Train incarcerated people in tech skills

Inmates in a learning center, explaining their learning process to volunteers.

TRANSFORM the system to better serve all incarcerated people


“The people closest to the problem are closest to the solution”-JustLeadership USA

Our Story

Jessica Hicklin and Chris Santillan, spent 26 and 28 years incarcerated respectively, both originally sentenced to life without parole as juveniles. Desperate to improve their minds and opportunities for successful return to society, in a facility with no access to formal education, they taught themselves how to code, without the internet. Teaming up with outside partners, they went on to use these skills to develop UnlockED, a learning management system to make digital educational content more accessible for themselves and their incarcerated peers.

Since then, Unlocked Labs has evolved to empower others to walk in Jessica & Chris’s footsteps, building the skills needed to succeed in the world, while building solutions to solve the problems they live every day.

Our Technology

UnlockEd (the solution) is the first prison education platform created by incarcerated students for incarcerated students

Education Access Tools

We build hardware and software tools to make it easy to deploy a wide range of education and rehabilitation programs in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid matter.


Partners logo, Vera Institute of Justice
Partners logo, Washington University in Saint Louis
Partners logo, Correctional Educators Association
Partners logo, Alliance for Higher Education in Prison
2285_Lemma Legal_JK_02.png
Partners logo, Launch Code
Supports logo, J.M. Kaplan Fund
Supporters logo, Fast Foward
Supporters logo, CVC
Supporters logo, Mellon Foundation
Supporters logo, Schmidt Futures
Supporters logo, Blue Ridge Labs
Supporters logo, Camelback Ventures


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