LINO LAKES, Minnesota — Inside the state prison at Lino Lakes are classrooms set up for inmates to learn job skills they can use upon release.
Crystal Hill-Hover and Fredrick McGee both served time in Minnesota prisons for crimes they committed, and both have been successful in business since being released. But it wasn't easy.
"I put in for 22 jobs. And I got hired at all of them until the second interview. Because of my record," McGee said.
According to the Department of Corrections, 500 to 600 inmates are released from Minnesota prisons every month, and there is no better way to prevent repeat offenses than stable employment.
The Department of Employment and Economic Development announced a $3 million grant program intended to break down the stigma that might prevent companies from hiring former inmates and help integrate them into the workforce. The funds will be available starting next week for cities and community-based organizations.
"People who come from prison are typically the most loyal, particularly after serving time, the most loyal and hard-working people out there. they just need a second chance. because they don't want to go back to where they were just at," McGee said.
Many inmates at Lino Lakes receive the skills training they need before their release. State leaders hope this program motivates organizations to offer it immediately after release as well.
When the grant program rolls out, cities and community-based organizations can apply for up to $500,000 to put toward skills training for recently-released inmates. It will be DEED's job to monitor the grants.
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