DEV Community

Cover image for PRISONERS learning to code. I spoke to a room full of prisoners to motivate them. Here is how that went.
Danny Thompson
Danny Thompson

Posted on

PRISONERS learning to code. I spoke to a room full of prisoners to motivate them. Here is how that went.

The passion could tear down the walls, The enthusiasm could lift the roof and the eager eyes ready to learn lifted from their computer screens. All eyes fell on me. I was in a room filled with prisoners... learning to code.

"The deck is stacked against you and there isn't a person around that wants you to succeed! I believe this is your new beginning, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE YOUR END! But You need to be so da*n good that they HAVE to need you! You need to be so good, that they have to pay attention to you. You need to be so good, that they have to ask someone 'Who is that? What is their name?' YOU NEED TO BE SO GOOD THAT THEY LEARN how to pronounce your name correctly. Be so good, that you... are undeniable."

No internet, lessons and work pre-prepared. The prisoners have nothing on their side for success except the amazing people that put on this program, their heart, their stamina and their sheer will NOT TO be denied. They are working hard, putting in the hours to produce a better version of themselves.

Danny Thompson with the people that work with the state to do this program
(Danny Thompson with the people that work with the state to do this program.)

I supported this program right away for a BIG reason. This is the situation of not giving a man a fish but teaching him to fish. You are giving an actual tool to these humans, to change the outcome of their lives. They are landing decent jobs when they get out which will deter them from wanting to return. They can freelance, they can pay their bills and not be swayed back into their old lifestyles!

Positive Impact Creates Positive Impact!

The reason why this program exists is there is factual proof that shows the recidivism rate for inmates that learns to code drops close to ZERO. Working with these inmates, I was able to see their drive to create change in their lives.

Now if these people can push themselves to get to the point of creating the change they want with ALL OF THE ODDS against them. Then shouldn't you be able to hit the goals you are going for?

"Why is it so hard to learn to code? Why can't I pick up code easily? Why is it so painful to learn how to program?! Why is this happening to me!?!"

WHY NOT YOU! It should happen to all of us! The greatest pains have hardened all of us into who we currently are. Embrace the circumstance to reach the level you want to achieve!

If a prisoner can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If they can say "I will not go quietly into the night! I will not give up!" Then you can too! You are phenomenal beyond measure! It is time to act like it. Recognize how valuable you are, shock your mind and SHOW YOURSELF how amazing you are!

I am Danny Thompson and I can't wait to see how amazing you become.
You can find me on twitter @dthompsondev

This last photo is with our meetup community GDG Memphis.
GDG Memphis community

Top comments (6)

petroskoulianos profile image
Petros Koulianos

Danny, you are the person that jumps into the problem and try to solve it, not like the rest of the society that to the only thing that is doing is to point the problems and talk about it.
Keep inspiring !!!

dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson

Thank you so much Petros!

Positive impact creates more positive impact! If there is a way I can help others and work towards creating a better community, I absolutely will.

Thank you for your kind words!

Keep doing amazing things Petros!

pixeline profile image
Alexandre Plennevaux

Hi Danny! I totally share your drive. I believe the best place to fix society is where society ends: prisons.
At BeCode, we are going to pilot our first coding training inside a prison in Belgium this year (in fact, it would have started if covid hadn't arrived). This pilot will be done as part of a European initiative: but we plan to continue beyond and iterate.
I'm curious how your program is going, what tool(s) you use with the inmates, and if we can help each other!

dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson

It is not my program. I just spoke there to motivate and give inspiration to the prisoners who will soon be developers. I know they are learning C#, Javascript, react etc.

I really wish you luck on this program! If you find that the students need some motivation or hope, message me. I would absolutely be open to spending 30 minutes on a video call if you have those capabilities inside the prison.

adityamitra profile image
Aditya Mitra

Man, that's an impact. Boom!

dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson

Positive impact creates MORE positive impact!

My motivation has always been to help developers of all levels in any way I can.

Keep doing amazing things Aditya!