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Prisoners earn degrees through new program

About two dozen inmates from the Lino Lakes prison graduated with degrees and certificates they earned while serving time behind bars.

LINO LAKES, Minn. — Lino Lakes correctional facility welcomed its second college graduating class Tuesday.

About two dozen inmates from the Lino Lakes prison earned degrees and certificates during their time behind bars. The correctional facility partnered with Minneapolis Community and Technical College, along with Metro State University. 

"Today is a very special event for our people," said Randall Bergman, the facility education director for the prison. 

"A lot of people in prison, we buy into this illusion that our life is on pause while we're in prison.," said Jamar Brown, who spent hours in the classroom studying at Lino Lakes. Brown was awarded two degrees for his efforts.  

It's quite a turnaround for Brown, who pled guilty to second-degree murder for shooting and killing a man during a 2017 drug deal.

Brown says his world was small at the time of his conviction... He was just 17 years old. 

"I wasn't exposed to a lot," he said. "It wasn't a lot of people coming from our community to tell you to conversate and talk to us and tell us like hey, you can go to college and there are scholarships, you can do this."

 About 30 years ago, those doing time could get federally funded higher education. In 2021, that program was reinstated.

"I figured it was time to do something different," Brown reflected on his path to higher education. 


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