A little-known fact about the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, West Virginia, is that it houses the LexisNexis Academic Elite Server (LEX). This is a fancy name for what you might recognize as the “Amazon Web Services’” (A.K.A AWS) learning management system, or LMS. And if you’re wondering, LEX is no ordinary LMS; it was specifically designed for federal inmates. Why? Well, because conventional LMS’s were not built with maximum security in mind. So, what is an LMS? Essentially, it’s a system that allows an institution to hold online classes, provide course materials in a digital format, and even assess student performance. But, in order to use an LMS, you have to have a computer in the first place. And, with over 400 inmates to a cell block, this was certainly no easy task. Hence the need for LEX. From an inmate’s perspective, this device represents their only means of accessing the internet, as well as being a source of much needed employment opportunities.
Why Should You Get Involved In FCI Oxford’s LMS Project?
Although the idea of an LMS might seem quite futuristic, several federal prisons have already implemented the technology, so it’s not as mysterious as it might seem. For instance, FCI-Oxford uses LEX because the Bureau of Prisons deemed Learn++, another leading LMS, insecure and outdated. So, if you’re looking to get into the online learning software industry, you might want to consider applying for a job at FCI-Oxford.
Another benefit of working for FCI Oxford is the ability to develop a working knowledge of various operating systems, such as Linux and Windows. In other words, you’ll get to try out a variety of computer hardware and software, such as web servers, e-mail programs, word processors, and more. And, let’s face facts: from an economic perspective, owning your own computer is very beneficial, as you can lease them rather cheaply from commercial software companies, like AWS. Developing this working knowledge is also invaluable, as you’ll be able to leverage it once you’re actually working for the company. This way, you won’t be totally dependent on a single piece of equipment, as most information technology specialists are nowadays.
What Will You Be Doing At FCI Oxford?
Inmates at FCI-Oxford perform a variety of physical tasks, such as maintaining the grounds and buildings, caring for the animals, and working in the kitchen. From an administrative perspective, you’ll be helping to run the prison’s computer department, which involves setting up and maintaining the prison’s network of computers and other devices, and monitoring system performance. That’s pretty much the gist of it. But, in case you were wondering, the title “data specialist” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. So, you might want to consider whether or not that’s a position you’ll enjoy once you’ve been employed there, given that you’ll be spending the majority of your time sitting in front of a computer. (Not to mention the occasional long hours staring into space.) But, if that’s the kind of person you is, then you might just fit right in at FCI-Oxford.
Another important factor to consider is the fact that your daily routine will change. For starters, you’ll be working long hours, as most data specialists must, so you won’t have much liberty after hours. (Plus, the prison’s hours are quite restrictive anyway.) Then there’s the matter of meals. While working for FCI Oxford, you’ll get to enjoy three square meals a day, as well as snacks and beverages, all of which are provided. Furthermore, you’ll get to eat what you want, when you want, which is a significant change from the rations imposed by most other employers. On the plus side, however, is the fact that you’ll be fed organic foods, which are more nutritious and cheaper, too. So, if you’re already planning on devoting a larger share of your income to food and clothing, this could be a welcome relief. (Not to mention the fact that you’ll have plenty of overtime to make up for it.)
Where Will You Be Working?
As mentioned above, the main office of FCI-Oxford is located outside the prison walls, in the nearby village of Hagerstown. (Which, for the record, is about as exciting as it sounds.) However, the majority of the prison’s staff, as well as most of its inmates, work in the facility’s computer labs. (Which is where you’ll spend the majority of your time, as well.)
In case you were wondering, the number of computers available at FCI-Oxford is quite impressive. In fact, there are more than enough devices to provide computer lab space for the entire population. (If the Bureau of Prisons ever decides to expand the prison, additional labs would be the first thing to go into, as it is currently overcrowded.) As mentioned above, working in the computer labs is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience, as you’ll get to try out different hardware and software, as well as develop a working knowledge of various operating systems. (Plus, you’ll get to keep whatever skills you learn.) There’s also the chance to learn a new trade, as the Bureau of Prisons values trained specialists highly, since it’s so hard to find staff with the necessary training and experience to run a complex institution, like FCI-Oxford. Overall, this is one place you might want to consider working, especially if the idea of being cooped up in a tiny, windowless concrete cell, all day long, scares you awake at night.
Will You Be Making A Significant Impact?
If you’re looking for a job that will have a significant impact on people’s lives, then working for FCI-Oxford might be an option. (Not to mention the fact that you’ll be helping to create worthwhile employment opportunities for those who deserve them most, as well as reducing recidivism rates throughout the US.) From an economic perspective, the institution saves the government a significant amount of money, by educating inmates instead of putting them into traditional, low-skill prison jobs, like cleaning bathrooms or stocking shelves. (Which, according to the Bureau of Prisons, are the two most common prison jobs. And trust me, cleaning bathrooms is no way to make a living.) Plus, by providing inmates with the tools to learn a new trade, or develop valuable skills, that they can use upon their release, the facility helps to mitigate some of the damage that mass incarceration has done to our country. (Not to mention the collateral damage that prisons and jails do to the human spirit.) In other words, working for FCI-Oxford is more than just a way to pay the bills.
In conclusion, working for FCI-Oxford is quite an attractive option, as you’ll get to play a significant role in creating a better world, while earning a decent living. (Not to mention the appealing location. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s on the way to everywhere.) So, if you’re looking for a new challenge, with a promising future, and a chance to make a meaningful difference, then FCI-Oxford might be the place for you.