The Educational Justice Institute (TEJI) at MIT, founded by Dr. Lee Perlman in 2017, is a non-profit housed in MIT’s Experimental Study Group (ESG). TEJI’s mission is to use education and technology to create sustainable solutions to mass incarceration, social injustice, and barriers to reentry. To give a little background, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, at 0.7% of the population. Moreover, 68% of formerly incarcerated people eventually return to prison within 3 years. TEJI aims to address these issues through the use of educational programming; incarcerated students participating in educational programs are 43% less likely to return to prison (RAND Corporation).
Since TEJI’s inception, it has offered numerous “mixed classroom” courses behind the wall, where MIT students learn alongside incarcerated students. However, when the COVID pandemic hit, in-person educational programming in correctional facilities was halted completely. As a result, in recent months, many correctional facilities have (out of necessity) integrated some technology and allowed some secure WiFi hotspots. This has created an unexpected window of opportunity for remote courses in correctional facilities and has improved the possibility for computer education.
In response to this window, TEJI created the Computer Education Committee: a group of MIT and Harvard students committed to improving and expanding computer education programs in correctional facilities. Our upcoming programs include introductory courses for incarcerated people focusing on computer programming, self-efficacy, and career readiness; the first starts in Spring 2020. We aim for this digital literacy course to fill an important vacuum in the incarcerated students’ need for employable skills and are partnering with employers and credit-bearing institutions to ensure the students’ continued success post-release. We hope to expand these programs in the coming years; should you work with students who may find these TEJI projects of interest, please ask them to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Marisa Gaetz, TEJI