Word of a Threat to the Program

Joel and I went in for our regular Tuesday-night session tonight (Rob can’t come back in until he goes through his security-training session day after tomorrow) and had a reasonably productive time with the guys, even though we couldn’t actually demonstrate any code because the available CO didn’t have a key to the place where they kept the projector.

But after the other guys in the class left, two of the three top students in the class stayed to talk to us in private.  These are the guys who are the driving force behind Sprint Zero of the Project.

They let us know that they’re trying to find a graceful way to quit–not just JavaGuys, but the entire Lifeline program that involves all sorts of computer-related training.

Why?

Because in prison, apparently, if you see somebody successfully bettering himself, especially if it takes effort or talent or skill you can’t or don’t want to apply, you resolve that situation by shooting him down.

These two guys are coming under increasing pressure because of their spectacular success in the program, and they’re afraid that if they continue, an incident of some sort will occur, they’ll be written up and sent to the Hole, and that in a few years when they come up next for parole, the Parole Board will see that ticket and flop them for four or five more years.

I love these two guys, and have been consistently amazed by their energy and inventiveness in overcoming the many obstacles that have stood in their way.  It would be a real shame to lose them; but if it were just them, I’d be forced to accept whatever decision they made.  Treating them as adults means that it’s not my job to fight their battles for them.

But this isn’t just about them.  If the forces that intimidate them succeed in making them leave the Project, a precedent will have been set.  When the next couple of pairs make it to the Project, the same forces will intimidate them as well–possibly also into leaving.

The whole point of the program–well, one of the whole points, anyway–is to give them professional-level experience on a Project that they can put on their resume.  If nobody can make it to the Project because he’s afraid he’ll get screwed, that severely cripples the program.

And it is my job to fight for the program.

So I gotta figure out what I’m gonna do.

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