MnDOC celebrates 19 incarcerated graduates in new partnership program

The Minnesota Department of Corrections held its largest higher education commencement ceremony since 1994 at Lino Lakes.

Nineteen students earned degrees while incarcerated through partnerships with Minneapolis College, Metro State University and the University of Minnesota.

The partnership was forged in 2021 and offers opportunities for incarcerated students to not only get their GEDs and Diplomas but also Associate and Bachelor degrees and other certificates.

“Paritcipating in the TREC (Transformation and Reeentry through Education and Community) program opens an untold number of opportunities for us,” said Carlos Sessions, who earned a B.A. in Individualized Studies from Metro State while in prison.

“The investment in this education program shows society is beginning to understand it is cheaper to educate than warehouse [omcasrcerated persons].”

Over 95 percent of incarcerated people in MnDOC will return to their communities one day, and the program aims to reduce recidivism, with research showing education is a key factor to success.

“These students simply want to learn. It’s not for a job but rather to think critically and expand their knowledge on a whole host of topics,” says Ann Deiman-Thornton, Dean of Education, Public and Human Services at Minneapolis College and former Education Director for MnDOC-Stillwater Correctional Facility.

“We’ve had incredibly attendance, nearly 100 percent, making this graduation a celebration of the dedication from these students and the great need for this program.”

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