advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

How one woman is helping former prisoners acclimate to a digital world

How one woman is helping former prisoners acclimate to a digital world
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


If you think mastering a new system update is hard, imagine sitting down to a computer for the first time after 20 years in prison. A career in the criminal-justice nonprofit sector inspired Elena Sigman to launch Tech 101, a free course to educate returning citizens in digital basics. Last year, a cohort of 13 students (average sentence length: 16 years) gathered at John Jay College in New York over the course of 10 sessions to learn how to log on to a computer, create email and social media accounts, and use basic programs like Microsoft Word. Instructor Albert Fermin has spent years teaching tech skills inside prisons where, because electronic devices are often not permitted, the education is more theoretical. In Tech 101, the students are in front of computers the whole time. “The level of determination in that classroom was fierce,” says Sigman, who has another Tech 101 course planned for May 2019, plus a Tech for Human Services class, which will teach students crucial skills for social work, like online case management. One of the students, after a 32-year prison sentence, parlayed her training into an online certification in food handling and is now able to work at a restaurant. She’s also using the internet to find a new apartment for herself in New York City.

advertisement
advertisement