By Jordan Bailey, January 22, 2020, for Portland Phoenix ME
In 2008, 21-year-old Brandon Brown shot a man in Portland’s Old Port. He was eventually convicted of attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault, and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Now Brown is poised to be the first person in Maine to earn a master’s degree while incarcerated, and may be the first inmate to conduct approved research on fellow inmates for his thesis project.
Brown shot former Marine James Sanders, crippling him, on June 24, 2008, and was sent to Maine State Prison in early 2010. His years of reflection on the crime and its aftermath, and his participation in the University of Maine at Augusta prison college program, led him to an interest in restorative justice and a commitment to education.
He is now the first Maine prisoner to enroll in graduate school and is a few months away from earning a master’s degree from George Mason University. He is researching the stories inmates tell of themselves for themes that might affect their reintegration into society.
His thesis work is groundbreaking in that it may be the first instance of institutional-review-board-approved, inmate-on-inmate research.