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Young men charged with felonies, but won't serve any time. Here's how and why?

The Brown County Young Adult Court was created to help people get felony charges reduced, find fresh start
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Posted at 7:36 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 11:09:32-04

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — Two young men convicted of felonies are avoiding time through a special program.

  • The Brown County Young Adult Court program was created by Eddie Boyce, founder and CEO of Better Days LLC.
  • The program is built to help those charged and convicted with crimes (non-violent felonies) by getting those charges/convictions dropped or lowered and helping participants adjust to their new chapter.
  • Many local government officials are part of the program. Participants go through rigorous supervision, counseling, testing, and court appearances.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I spoke with Henry Geil and Joe Sampton at Angelina's, where they now work. Opportunities that may not have happened.

"I find the value in what I've got here," Geil said.

Both grew up in Green Bay, Henry, a football standout at Preble High School who played at the University of Iowa, he says after a close friend died, he came home.

"For me it was all sense of purpose was kind of lost," Geil said.

Growing up, Sampton says he had run-ins with the law, became a young father, and dealt with loss.

"I lost my mom and after my son was born, a couple months after we found out he got to have a heart surgery," Sampton said.

They both say hard times led to bad decisions and felony charges for non-violent crimes, but a local man got them on their feet.

"He just smiled and said I got you," Sampton said.

Eddie Boyce created the Young Adult Court, an intense program with a strong team unique to Brown County.

The team is composed of the following officials:

  • Judge Tammy Jo Hock (oversees the court)
  • Kayla Robinson (Brown county case manager)
  • Dana Johnson (district attorney)
  • Kevin Martin (public defender)
  • Deanna Fischer (Brown County therapist)
  • Adam Smith (probation and parole officer)
  • Julia Welch (probation and parole officer)

Participants can avoid some convictions and, in some cases, have charges expunged.
"I grew up like them so I feel like, you know what, let me lay down the tracks for the next young individual who feels like I'm never going to make it out," Boyce said.

"The program, it really did help just having a set schedule," Sampton said."Just being prepared for things or just be up early in the morning because you got things to do, go to work."

District attorney David Lasee said these programs show promise.

"When you give that 360-degree care, when you provide all those resources, recidivism rates go down," Lasee said. "Your likelihood of being successful with that candidate increases."

I asked Sampton how many times he has been at the Brown County Courthouse.

"In a year, probably about like 50 to 100 times somewhere in that area," Sampton said.

Looking forward, they acknowledge the stigma associated with their pasts but are prepared to face and have conversations with those who don't believe in change.

"I know it's going to eat you up when I smile at you at the red light perfectly fine," Geil said. "That's just something they gotta live with, I'm okay."

The Brown County Young Adult Court started in February 2021 and he currently has four students pushing for graduation and a fresh start.