Criminal Justice & Reentry

Providing wrap-around services that address basic needs.


Getting to Real Change

Each year 500-700 people leave prison and return to Dane County. Hundreds more complete their jail sentences and return to our community. The vast majority of these people are men and of those, a large percentage are African American. Involvement in the criminal justice system remains heavily stigmatized and often results in insurmountable barriers for returning citizens to obtaining gainful employment and stable housing, which often leads to recidivism and re-incarceration.

Research shows that the key to reducing recidivism and re-incarceration is in providing wrap-around services that address basic needs such as housing and employment as well as providing mentoring and peer support to navigate challenges that may arise on a personal, legal, and family level.

Nehemiah Reentry Services

Nehemiah provides a wide array of culturally competent and relevant programs to meet the needs of men who are leaving jail or prison. These services increase the likelihood that our participants will transition successfully and become contributing members of our community. Our reentry staff include formerly incarcerated African American men who have effectively navigated the challenges of reentry.

Our wrap-around services include:

  • Housing – We provide several safe, sober living environments throughout Madison for formerly incarcerated men
  • Coaching/Mentoring – We provide coaching that addresses issues such as trauma, healthy relationships, anger management, fatherhood and leadership development
  • Employment – We assist our participants with job placements in businesses throughout Dane County
  • Advocacy – We advocate for ex-offenders, particularly within the court and legal system
  • Case Management – We offer one on one case management for many of our participants

Nehemiah Man UP! Initiative

Nehemiah’s Man UP group offers currently, and recently incarcerated men hope, healing, and growth. Started as a support group of formerly incarcerated men, Man UP goes beyond what is typically considered cornerstones of reentry services — housing, employment, education, and treatment — to provide a space where men can talk freely and safely about their experiences with other men who’ve been there. Man UP helps formerly incarcerated men heal and grow through sharing their own stories.

How to Participate 

Man UP is supported by formerly incarcerated men from around the Madison area, who share their experiences with the group. The support provided through groups and mentoring help participants deal with issues such as healing from past traumas, spiritual development, creating healthy relationships, conflict resolution, anger management, personal plans, job readiness, and leadership development. More importantly, you will be interacting with other formerly incarcerated men who have had the same experiences you now face and have learned how to cope or navigate them.

To attend Man Up, simply come to Fountain of Life Church on a Tuesday or Thursday at 5:00. There you will be welcomed, fill out a simple form, and have a light meal.

Wrap-around Services

Once back in the community, Man UP follows group participants as they move forward as advocates for their success. Man UP supports men in finding work, securing a place to live, and returning to school. Whatever the barrier, Man UP will call on their community ties to help the participants succeed. Man UP participants are encouraged to continue attending the support group as they transition back into the community. 

Leadership Development

Man UP gives men the opportunity to explore their own capacity to become leaders in their communities. More than just connecting these men to services, Man UP provides coaching and mentoring connections to help men recognize that others have overcome these challenges and prevailed. Man UP exposes people to possibilities they may not have considered before, as a career, 

owning a home, or going to college. Man UP challenges participants to believe in their own potential.

Come for the food and fellowship and stay for the realization that you are not alone in your struggle.

Man UP meets Tuesdays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at:
Fountain of Life Church
633 W Badger Road
Madison, WI 53713

“When you leave people in a state of brokenness, they stay broken. Jail doesn’t heal people.”
– Aaron Hicks

For more information please contact Aaron Hicks at 608-395-4147 or

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Criminal Justice Program

Court Observers Program

Racial disparities in Wisconsin’s incarceration rates are among the worst in the country. This is a result of issues at every level of the system. Public attention to the court system is necessary to drive change in court processes. In 2018, volunteers with the Madison-based Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership developed the court observer program to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal legal process in Dane County. In 2021, with the impact of the pandemic on housing insecurity, the program expanded to include eviction court.  

Under the guidance of Nehemiah staff, the program offers members of the public the opportunity to learn more about our local criminal and eviction courts through a combination of education and court observation.  Trained observers attend court proceedings and share their observations with Nehemiah staff to gather insights that help Nehemiah:

  • Identify irregularities or challenges to equity 
  • Expose the public to details of the court process
  • Formulate advocacy actions
  • Support criminal justice research efforts

Download Info Sheet

To learn more or sign up for training, email:

For tenant supporters, find our DIY Redaction Filing Instructions here.

Contact Our Director of Reentry

Anthony Cooper Sr. is Director of Reentry Services. Anthony brings over 10 years of job development and mentoring to this role and he uses his life experience to ensure ex-offenders successfully return to our community and re-acclimate to society.

Anthony Cooper 608.257.2453 x244