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Jailbreak My Life

Jailbreak My Life

Blog entry by: Evan Misshula, 9/24/2015

Our latest blog entry comes from Evan Misshula, a doctoral candidate in Criminal Justice at John Jay College/CUNY Graduate Center. 

Over the weekend, two CUNY John Jay Computer Science majors, Marta Orlowska (’16) and Nyvia DeJesus (’16) put their skills to the test against a room full of professionals. The pair not only competed, but won major prizes at the ATT Wireless Women in Technology Hackathon for Good. They paired with two professional developers, Sara Morsi (CCNY ’14) and Igor Politov, an engineer with DealBook.

The team with John Jay Instructor and CS Club Advisor Evan Misshula, Developer Community Manager for Harman, Richard Dunbar and Hackathon Volunteer Brendan Reilly after having won the Harman API prise.

Their app, Jailbreak My Life, was a mobile resource center for returning prisoners, and the project fits well with John Jay’s many initiatives on reintegrating youth who may have experienced arrest or detention. The app used the Google Maps API to show where the user was relative to essential resources such as food, jobs, free tutoring or healthcare. In addition to using the Google Maps API, the app, built in only six hours, used a thoroughly modern stack of HTML5, Reach and Node JavaScript. Asked how they could code in a language John Jay doesn’t teach, Marta Orlowska said, “It’s not the language that is important. At John Jay, I got really good training the fundamentals like data structures and source control. With that background and a great coding partner like Sara, it was easy to contribute in just a few hours.” Meanwhile, Nyvia was learning how to leverage the Google Maps API to incorporate real-time GIS data into their application, a task that no other team mastered over the course of the event.

It was no surprise that John Jay students chose a socially relevant mobile application that combined computing and criminal justice. “Our students are often much better than many developers at seeing the large overlap between policing, incarceration, and computational problems,” said Computer Science Club advisor and Substitute Instructor Evan Misshula. “Accomplishing so much in such a short amount of time is truly an outstanding  acheivement for these emerging leaders in computer science and criminal justice.”

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