Washington DC

Amazon Funded Program Teaches DC Inmates Cloud Computing Skills

19 inmates at a D.C. jail learned new skills in a pilot program funded by Amazon

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Leonard Bishop, who has spent the majority of his life behind bars, is now a Certified Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practioner.

Bishop, 48, was convicted of murder when he was a teenager and did not have much education before going to prison. Now, he is one of 19 inmates at a D.C. jail who participated in a pilot program learning cloud computing skills. 

“I’ve been locked up since 1994, I was 19. Education was really nonexistent, I had probably maybe a 5th-grade education,” Bishop said. 

While in prison, he managed to get a high school diploma and was elected as the jail’s advisory neighborhood commissioner during the last election cycle. 

“It’s a game changer man, it gave people a direction, not only a job but a career. It just helped me, it gave me direction,” he said. “Once you’re incarcerated for so long, you start to realize the things you thought were important ain’t really important, you know what I’m saying, and with the help of programs like this, I believe everybody deserves a second chance.” 

The course, funded by an Amazon grant, includes basic cloud computing skills like security, cloud concepts and services. The certification can lead to well-paying jobs in information technology, business analysis, marketing and project management.  

“That was the biggest attraction, I believe it's anywhere from $85 thousand to $130 with the certification I had,” he said. 

Bishop is not sure if he will ever be released. Though, he is technically eligible under D.C. law because he committed his crime before he was 18 and has served more than 15 years.

If he is released, he said his new skills and certification will relieve some of his anxiety about returning to society. 

“The biggest fear is how you going to provide for yourself. I think this took away some of that fear,” Bishop said. 

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