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Prisoners Free Their Minds in Georgetown University Class Behind Bars

Locked up since he was a teenager, Roy Middleton basked in a moment of renewal one recent evening at a chapel in the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility. He was about to be released after spending more than half his life behind bars for a murder in the nation’s capital. His fellow inmates, who were also his classmates, clapped and cheered. “Freedom!” someone yelled.

By happenstance, Middleton’s celebration was twofold.

First, a D.C. judge ruled Dec. 17 that 24 years of incarceration was enough for the crime Middleton committed at age 16. His original sentence, 35 years to life, was cut to time served.

Second, Middleton was one of about 50 inmates honored that evening for completing fall classes Georgetown University offered at the D.C. jail.

The event reflected a growing national movement to offer higher education to those who are incarcerated. One goal is to provide prisoners with skills and credentials that might prove useful when they are released and looking for a job. Another is to reduce the risk that they will commit more crimes and return to prison.