An ex-con discovers ‘Minnesota Nice’

Leigh Sprague just moved here from California, where he served time for transporting stolen funds in foreign commerce.

He acknowledges in his op-ed in the Star Tribune today that his bar for “nice” is pretty low; he came to accept the rudeness of prison as normal… almost nice.

Still, he writes today, Minnesota is pretty nice for a person trying for a second chance.

There have been the potential employers who, when I tell them of my background, do not judge and seem genuinely accepting and willing to take a chance on me and give me the second chance I so long for.

There have been the workers at my halfway house, who treat us with genuine caring and respect, contrary to all of my expectations based on what I had heard about big-city California and New York halfway houses.

And there have been the volunteers at nonprofits dedicated to giving those like me a meaningful shot at a second chance who clothed me when I came out of prison with only a few T-shirts and sweatpants and provided me with good leads on employment.

Sprague has taken a job on the night shift in a printing factory. There, he says, he’s met many Somalis, impressed “by their work ethic, their generosity, their drive and their attempts to adapt to their new home.”

“As someone who, having once been in the privileged mainstream, now finds himself in a new, less-respected category, I can say that Minnesota Nice, and the extent to which it extends to new arrivals of all stripes and creeds, is truly nice,” he writes.

Then again, he probably hasn’t read the comments section yet.