About Ameelio

Ameelio is a technology nonprofit that builds software to combat mass incarceration. We’re disrupting the $3 billion predatory prison communications industry to create a more humane and rehabilitative corrections system for the over 2 million people incarcerated and their 27M loved ones. Our tools are built to power broadscale decarceration.

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The problem

Nearly 1 in 2 Americans have an immediate family member who 
is currently or has previously been incarcerated. 1 in 4 American adults has had a sibling incarcerated. 1 in 5 has had a parent sent to jail or prison, and 1 in 8 has had a child incarcerated.

The footprint of mass incarceration is staggering. And worse yet, predatory prison companies backed by private equity and hedge funds have been exploiting this crisis and millions of Americans for decades.

Our story

Ameelio was launched at the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Two Yale students, Uzoma "Zo" Orchingwa and Gabe Saruhashi saw the effects that family separation and isolation had on incarcerated individuals and their families. Zo and Gabe went on to launch the fist and only nonprofit provider of incarcerated persons communication services (IPCS). They envisioned Ameelio as an ecosystem of prison communications that enable loved ones to communicate with their incarcerated family members, and a powerful advocate taking on the billion-dollar IPCS industry, dominated by two exploitative companies.

We are a team of technologists, advocates, designers, lawyers, and engineers who are committed to fundamentally transforming the correctional system for the better. At the core of our work is an understanding that poverty is a key driver of mass incarceration. 50% of prisoners have no earnings in the eight years leading up to their incarceration. In the year immediately preceding the imprisonment, that percentage jumps to 80%.

We are and will always strive to be one of the boldest and most innovative approaches to criminal justice reform, not only because of our ability to build powerful technology to tackle the most challenging problems in the space but also because our tools are informed by the profound understanding that sustainable decarceration is only possible if we provide the incarcerated with the vital resources and pathways that they lacked prior to incarceration (i.e. educational equity, economic mobility, societal support, and more).

Technology is rapidly transforming the world around us; we intend to use it to solve one of society’s greatest social crises — mass incarceration.

The Predatory Prison Communications Industry

Decades of research show that sustained family contact dramatically improves post-release outcomes and significantly reduces recidivism.

Mass incarceration costs taxpayers $182 billion a year. It costs millions of families everything they have. Two predatory prison telecom companies generate obscene profits by charging extortionate prices to the incarcerated and their loved-ones simply to maintain contact.

Families spend up to $500/month just to stay connected with incarcerated loved ones. A 15-minute phone call runs as steep as $25, and an email costs $1.50. This drives 1 in 3 families into debt and keeps recidivism rates at staggering levels (55 percent within 3 years).

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Crisis &  Opportunity on the Horizon for Prison Education

Access to education while incarcerated is extremely limited. 64% percent of incarcerated individuals in state and federal prisons are academically qualified for postsecondary prison education programs, yet only 9% of incarcerated individuals completed college courses while in prison. Of the 960,000 incarcerated individuals eligible for college, only 86,400 will leave prison having completed a college course, let alone graduate. While a small handful of elite in-person prison education programs have been inspiring leaders in the space, they are geographically limited and small in size.

In late 2020, Congress expanded Pell Grants to incarcerated persons, making 463,000 currently incarcerated people eligible to receive educational financial aid. Yet, before Ameelio, no virtual prisons education platform existed to help programs scale their reach.

The predatory prison companies that have exploited vulnerable families for years are looking to cash in on pell grants, trapping the incarcerated students in low quality digital  environments.

Access to higher education for incarcerated individuals is critical in reducing recidivism and improving post-release outcomes. Incarcerated individuals who participate in post-secondary education programs are 43% less likely to recidivate, and for every $1 invested in post-secondary prison education, the public saves $4-$5 in cost of incarceration. Ameelio is poised to democratize access to prison education.

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We’re scaling fast

We're expanding fast! Get in touch and bring leading technology into your facilities.

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Our leadership

April Feng, CEO

CEO

April is an internationally recognized leader in civic innovation. Passionate about enabling second chances through human connection and education, she has spearheaded efforts to ensure that incarcerated individuals and their families are included in the implementation of the historic bipartisan infrastructure law (IIJA) on state and national stages, leveraging a once in a generation opportunity to address structural failures in the criminal justice system.

Before becoming CEO, April previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at Ameelio, where she has overseen the rapid expansion of Ameelio services across the country as well as internationally. Under her leadership, Ameelio doubled the amount and variety of incarcerated users served.  

Prior to Ameelio, April has worked extensively for governments and academia in both the U.S. and the U.K. April holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a BA from the University of Notre Dame.

Ben Porter, CTO

CTO

Ben is the CTO of Ameelio. He has served as an architect for Red Hat and has extensive experience in building and scaling tech startups from small teams to public companies and beyond. He holds a Masters degree in Information Assurance and Cyber Security from Dakota State University, and a dual Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Business.

Our team and culture

Ameelio is a nonprofit technology team headquartered in New York City, and New Haven, CT. We began as an all-volunteer effort until late-2020. Since, we have built an A-team that brings together best-in-class technical and criminal justice expertise. Our engineering and product teams come from: Apple, Facebook, Red Hat, Kickstarter, and other leading tech companies.

We pride ourselves in having a no-ego culture and have built one of the kindest and most dedicated teams in tech.

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Join our team

Chief Operating Officer

United States | Remote | Full-time

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Director of Government Affairs

United States | Remote | Full-time

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Principal Software Engineer (Ruby on Rails)

United States | Remote | Full-time

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Get in touch

General inquiries | team@ameelio.org

Careers | ameelio.breezy.hr

Customer support | customersupport@ameelio.org

Want to request a demo?

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