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How a Drug-Induced Murderer Turned Into a Computer Engineer

Drugs can cause you to do unspeakable things that you would never imagine doing sober. It can be a very tough question to answer whether a murderer deserves a second chance even if his actions were the cause of drug abuse. The story of Zachary Moore can teach you how keeping your feelings hidden about your parent’s drug use and your own can cause you to commit shocking acts that have the potential to ruin your life. 

Moore’s Drug-Induced Act of Murder

Moore grew up in Redlands, California where he would play video games, sports, and hang out with his friends. Unfortunately, he grew up with a dysfunctional family. His parents were both alcoholics who would go on frequent drink binges and forget to feed their kids. When Moore became a teenager, he was having trouble being able to manage his feelings. This would cause him to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. He felt like this would help numb and ignore his home life problems.

On November 8, 1996, an argument he had with family members pushed him over the edge where all of the anger and pain he was harboring led him to stab his sibling to death while he was sleeping on the couch. Moore’s defense attorney spoke at the trial that he blamed Moore’s home life of drug abuse, domestic abuse, and alcoholism as the cause of his actions. That it was a psychotic break after years of neglect and abuse. The jury did not take pity on Moore and was found guilty of murder. He was tried as an adult and was sentenced 26 to life in prison. Three days before his 17th birthday, Moore was transferred from juvenile hall to a high-security prison.

Moore’s Self-Discovery in Prison

For the next few years, Moore would go from prison to prison trying to figure out who he was and about what he did to land him there. Moore said he was surrounded by a bunch of adults who were on the same journey of self-discovery as him. In 2000, Moore landed in a “cell within a cell” where he was on lockdown 23 hours a day with little human contact. Being in that cell made Moore realize that his crime was the result of extreme emotions and how his circumstances growing up was not what made him kill his brother. That there were millions of kids who grew up like he did that found other ways to deal with negative emotions compared to committing murder. Moore discovered there were things about him that needed to be fixed. 

Moore formed a “brotherhood” with a group of other convicts who were trying to better themselves. He attended Buddhist services, meditation classes, and learned to deal with his emotions through the support of his new friends. In his late 20s, Moore landed at Ironwood, a medium-security facility in Riverside County. He enrolled in an online college program at Palo Verde College where he earned an Associate’s degree and graduated with a 3.89 GPA. 

The Last Mile

In 2010, entrepreneur and Silicon Valley investor Chris Redlitz was invited to give a business talk at San Quentin State Prison. He and his wife founded “The Last Mile,” a bi-weekly entrepreneurship program at the prison. Redlitz noticed a problem in that when inmates are released, they are given $10-$200 in cash and sent on their way with no job or housing help. In California, 7 to 10 released inmates recommit a crime within three years. This leads to an incarceration crisis of $183 billion a year spent. 

Redlitz wanted to empower inmates to have a future outside of prison to give them hirable skills. Coding is a very powerful skill to have in California. Since the prison had a no-internet policy, the program had a fake internet using video seminars. When “The Last Mile” expanded its program to Ironwood, Moore was one of the first people to sign up after finding a flyer for it in the prison hallway.

Moore Discovers Coding

Since Moore was sentenced in 1996, that meant he never saw the internet before. Even though Moore had a life sentence, he still had hope that he would one day be released with a good job. Only 10% of inmates with life sentences get admitted to the program. Moore was accepted and began the first of two 6-month curriculums.

Four times a week from 7 am to 2 pm, Moore and a team learned front-end code like HTML and CSS. For the first month, he could only write his code by hand. When computers were brought in, he relied on instructional videos and screenshots of real-user flows. For the second month, he learned Javascript and NodeJS. For his final project, he built a mock e-commerce site called GeekChic. Moore put in a transfer for San Quentin to continue his training. Not long after, he discovered he was up for parole.

How Moore is Now

On November 12, 2018, Moore was released after 22 years. For six months, Moore worked as a part-time engineer for “The Last Mile.” In May 2019, Moore went from intern to full-time engineer at Checkr, a background check technology firm. “The Last Mile” has transitioned 70 graduates to the workplace. Moore is an example of what happens to you when addiction and mental health are untreated and that if you work hard, you can get a second chance.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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