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They're Locked Up in D.C. — And Learning How to Code from MIT


students from Brave Behind Bars interact with laptop computers

Students from Brave Behind Bars talk about their projects during a graduation ceremony.

Credit: Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post

After almost four decades of odd jobs and crimes that landed him in and out of jail, 57-year-old Rochell Crowder completed a computer science course taught by Ph.D. candidates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Crowder, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery in 2020, was one of 16 men who enrolled in the course while detained at the D.C. jail. The 12-week program, called Brave Behind Bars, adds to the suite of educational services that experts hope will better prepare detainees for reentry. The course, taught twice a week over Zoom, also was offered to women incarcerated in Maine.

The program teaches basic coding languages such as JavaScript and HTML in hopes of opening the door for detainees to one day pursue high-paying jobs. "They are transferable, employable skills," says Amy Lopez, deputy director of college and career readiness for the D.C. Department of Corrections.

From The Washington Post
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