The former Brooklyn Center cop who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead 20-year-old Daunte Wright is serving time in a Minnesota prison that touts itself as a place that gives inmates a ‘chance to bloom.’
Kim Potter, 49, was led away in handcuffs and ordered to be held without bail ahead of her sentencing in February after being found guilty on all counts at Hennepin County Court on Thursday.
She was then transferred to Minnesota Correctional Facility – Shakopee, a five-level security prison located about 25 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis.
The facility cares for about 650 female prisoners and offers a variety of in-prison programs designed to help in rehabilitation, according to Prison Fellowship. The inmates are invited to participate in a 5K runs, further their education and grow their relationship with God.
Promotional materials show inmates studying, sewing and planting produce that is then donated to community members in need. One inmate is even trying to pursue a law degree while behind bars.
The facility is also the first prison to offer a pipeline program that allows inmates to pursue a law degree while behind bars
The Shakopee prisoners are said to ‘see things differently and find the light at the end of the tunnel’ after their time at the facility, according to Warden Tracy Beltz.
‘We’ve come here [to prison] because we have done something wrong,’ inmate Angelina said in the promotional materials. ‘To be able to have that second chance means everything.’
Shakopee welcomed Potter, who was seen smiling in her booking photo, on December 23.
Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, claimed she accidentally shot Wright when she reached for her gun instead of her Taser during a traffic stop over his expired plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11.
She was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter on Thursday and now faces a maximum of 15 years in prison on the first charge and 10 years on the second, with the sentencing expected to take place in February.
The convicted ex-cop will remain in the facility until at least her sentencing. While likely, it is unclear if she will be serving her entire sentence at Shakopee
The prison, which is advertised as a place for growth and second chances, touts inmate success stories online.
Meredith, a former drug dealer only listed by her first name who has served at least two sentences at the facility, claims the prison’s programs helped her do a ‘complete 180 from her previous life.’
She was first sentenced at Shakopee when she was 22 and reportedly did not have respect for her punishment.
‘I didn’t change my behaviors – I just wanted an easy way out,’ Meredith, now 30, explained.
‘I was 22, and I knew what I was going to do. I knew what I was going back to.
She said participating in the Prison Fellowship Academy, a program offered at Shakopee, during her second sentence ‘influenced her greatly’ and made her realize that people cared about her.
‘People just take you where you’re at, and the grace – the astronomical grace! People that actually want to care about you and want to help you succeed. It doesn’t feel superficial like so many of my other relationships,’ she said.
‘It’s a humble confidence – knowing who you are deeply rooted in Christ, you don’t need anybody externally to tell you about yourself
Now, instead of focusing on herself, Meredith has reportedly has a ‘steadfast heart’ and a calling to serve others.
The facility also provides inmates with opportunities to further their education and pursue their professional dreams.
Earlier this year Maureen Onyelobi – who is seven years into her life-without-parole prison sentence after being charged in 2014 with aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder – became the first known incarcerated woman to take a law school admittance test.
Through a new program called the Prison to Law Pipeline, Onyelobi was able to sit for her LSAT at Shakopee and – assuming she passed – can then attend Hamline Law School to pursue her law degree.
The pipeline program, which is in its early stages, has not yet been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) as students cannot receive a completely remote law degree.
‘This place is what you make it,’ Onyelobi said of Shakopee, noting during her sentencing she has learned a lot about law and used that knowledge to help fellow inmates.
‘I’ve helped several women with their appeals,’ she said. ‘It’s rewarding to help other people. I care about others and I feel more worth now than I did before.’
The pipeline program appears to be unique to Shakopee, unlike the facility’s fellowship programs.
‘This is a legal revolution,’ Onyelobi argued. ‘The statistics don’t lie. I’m living it. You can’t learn this experience in a classroom.’
Beltz says she prides herself in the non-traditional way she runs Shakopee. She claims her approach prepares inmates for re-entry into the world.
‘This is not a soft-on-crime approach [to corrections],’ Beltz told Prison Fellowship.
‘This is the stuff we know works to keep people out of prison. Prisoners need those community connections. They need people to support them in their reentry. They need people that are going to hold them accountable to do the right thing, while encouraging them.’
She added: ‘When you promote that [life] can be bigger than just a prison—do your time and get out—it does something to the psyche and to the population,’ Warden Beltz says. The women ‘start seeing things [differently]. They start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.’
It is unclear if Potter will utilize any of the prison’s unique offerings during her time behind bars