New bill to create one-stop reentry community centers for formerly incarcerated

Milwaukee man knows firsthand benefits of having supportive network once released from prison
Posted at 2:59 PM, Nov 07, 2023

A new state bill with bipartisan support could make it easier for thousands of people formerly incarcerated to stay out of prison.

Reporter Tahleel Mohieldin spoke to a Milwaukee man who knows firsthand the benefits of having a supportive network once released from prison.

After spending 25 years in prison, Adam Procell used to think in society he didn’t have much of a voice.

“I’m still serving a life sentence, it’s just I’m on parole now,” Procell said. “So theoretically I can never vote for the rest of my life.”

Still, he’s made it his mission to help others like him who were once incarcerated, in part through his work with Partners In Hope, a faith-based reentry organization.

Lately, Procell has been credited with being the idea man behind a push for legislation that would require the Department of Corrections to create a community reentry center.

The goal of Senate Bill 172 is to create a one-stop shop for things like employment, housing, and healthcare services to help break down access barriers to the newly released.

It’s a service formerly incarcerated Steven Bugni said for him would make things a lot easier.

"A lot of places only service you for one thing when you know you need multiple things so now you running around the city trying to search in what you need and can't find help sometimes,” Bugni explained. “It just makes it seem like you're at another standstill."

Procell also said the benefits would not be limited to parolees but parole officers as well. He said officers spend a lot of time dealing with referrals so the centers would help them manage their caseloads

“If you can kind of eliminate or take six referrals, send them all to one place you’ve just increased your time by x amount minutes or hours,” he said.

Still, both Procell and those he’s hoping to help get a leg up agree that change first has to come from within but having the right resources in place makes doing the right thing a lot easier.

State legislators have already set aside $4 million dollars to establish the facility pending bill passage. If it succeeds the first reentry center would be set up in Milwaukee County.