Wisconsin imprisons 1 in 36 Black adults. No state has a higher rate. – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-10-17 07:00:00 –

Milwaukee’s Ramia Whiteside is holding a sign during a protest against the COVID-19 epidemic at Wisconsin Prison outside the Governor’s residence in Maple Bluff, Wisconsin, on November 24, 2020. The domestic percentage of black residents imprisoned “slaps their faces.” Whiteside works at a Milwaukee-based EXPO that defends formerly imprisoned people. (Coburn Duke Heart / Wisconsin Watch)

Wisconsin has imprisoned black residents at a higher rate than any other state in the country, and a new report has been found highlighting the long-standing deep disparities in the state’s criminal justice system.

NS reportCreated by the Sentencing Project and released Wednesday, uses data from the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Justice and Statistics to calculate the percentage of states that imprison white residents and people of color.

One in 36 adults in Black Wisconsin is reportedly in “amazing” prisons. Blacks make up 42% of Wisconsin’s prison population, but only 6% of the state’s population.

The analysis also examined the disparity in imprisonment rates between blacks and whites. Black Americans are reportedly imprisoned almost five times as often as White Americans nationwide, and even higher in Wisconsin, almost twelve times as often.

The report cites racial prejudice throughout the criminal justice system. African Americans point out that they are facing disproportionate arrest rates and factors that can lead to longer sentences. This makes you more likely to be prosecuted as an addict and spends more time in jail awaiting trial.

Re-entry is especially difficult, according to Lamia Whiteside, who has been imprisoned for over 20 years. Whiteside, the organizer of EXPO, now a Milwaukee-based advocacy group for formerly imprisoned people, discriminates in creating jobs, securing stable housing, and even buying life insurance. I faced it.

“Many places are waiting when it comes to hiring you for a felony or waiting for someone else who isn’t qualified,” he said.

For these reasons, imprisonment is also associated with a decline in children’s lifetime income and negative life outcomes, contributing to high crime rates and “deterioration of neighborhoods” that exacerbate existing inequality. The report states. Supporters More funding for pre- and post-release services and efforts to combat the stigma associated with having a criminal record.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy said the government took police and disciplinary action to “make us a safer and more livable place, not the systems and programs we know.” Said that he was “overinvesting.”

Proponents of Wisconsin’s prison reform were disappointed by the report’s findings and called them “depressed” and “embarrassed.”

“For me, it’s like slap my face,” Whiteside said. “How can I be the worst? That particular situation is unacceptable.”

The report found some of Wisconsin’s most extreme disparities, but the problem is nationwide, even in states where the rate of imprisoning blacks is relatively low. Hawaii, the state with the smallest racial disparity, imprisons black adults more than twice as often as whites.

David Liners, head of the faith-based group Wisdom, says Wisconsin’s track record of imprisoning more blacks than any other state means something has to change. “Leadership is needed to stop pretending that the system is slightly damaged and needs some tweaking. Instead, every step of the process, from policing to extended monitoring, and everything in between. Needs to be reconsidered. ”He was seen at the Dodge County Circuit Court in Juneau, Wisconsin, July 14, 2016 (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch).

The report also found that the northeastern and upper Midwestern states showed the largest racial disparities in the prison system.

David Liners, state-wide coordinator of Wisdom, a state-wide faith-based social justice organization, said:

“As a state, it doesn’t really raise the sense of urgency that this is a complete breach of what we consider to be in Wisconsin,” Liners said. “We don’t like to think of ourselves as the most racist nation in the union, or the toughest people on the planet when it comes to blacks … Unfortunately, that’s not the one we want to be, and now we are.”

2020 study According to the Wisconsin State Court System, men of color, especially blacks and Native Americans, are significantly more likely to be sentenced to imprisonment than whites, 28% and 34% higher, respectively, and white men than those who are not. It may be 21% less. -A white man sentenced to imprisonment.

Reiner praised the Sentence Project’s recommendations for closing inequality. This includes decriminalizing low-level drug crimes, abolishing mandatory minimum sentences, and adopting racial impact statements to assess the impact of proposed criminal legislation on various groups.

“But for Wisconsin, I believe we need something more fundamental,” he said. “Leadership is needed to stop pretending that the system is slightly damaged and needs some tweaking. Instead, every step of the process, from policing to extended monitoring, and everything in between. Needs to be reconsidered. “

Wisconsin imprisons blacks almost 12 times more than whites, according to a new report from the Sentence Project. Analysis shows that one in 36 black adults in Wisconsin is imprisoned. (Courtesy of Sentence Project)

Others have pointed out that Wisconsin’s split state government (Republican-run legislature and Democratic governor Tony Evers) is making drastic changes difficult. “Of course, the challenge is to accumulate political will in the divided governments,” said state legislators Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, and former public defender.

In a statement, Kevin Kerr, the secretary of the Wisconsin Correctional Bureau, made a similar point.

“For a long time, we understand that Wisconsin’s criminal justice policy has increased imprisonment and had a disproportionate impact on the color community because the results were too low and taxpayers were too expensive.” Mr. Kerr said. “Governor Evers makes multiple proposals related to criminal justice and juvenile justice reform The budget he sent to Congress, Just to get the Republican-controlled Joint Fiscal Commission to throw them away. “

Mr. Kerr has a state prison system Management procedure Reduce prison population and reduce the number of people returning to prison by expanding the eligibility of the earned release program and changing community oversight policies. And while the prison population declined during the pandemic, reaching its lowest level in 20 years, the prison population began to recede by more than 20,000 as the court returned to handling the case. As of October 8, the state’s total prison population exceeds prison design capabilities by 16%.

Goik pointed out some steps that could mitigate the effects of imprisonment. Act of Parliament 69, Passed Congress and is now in front of the Senate.

The bill will allow low-level nonviolent criminals, including those convicted of possessing drugs, to erase their records. Currently, a person is eligible for erasure only if the judge makes the decision at a hearing of the judgment and the person is 25 years or younger. The bill will eliminate those conditions.

“Thousands of people will benefit from this law,” he said, banning more than 200 occupations in Wisconsin from obtaining a license for some or all of the applicants with a criminal record. Said.

“I’m not saying that’s all we have to do as Congress,” Goik added. “We need to take as many (steps) as possible.”

Wisconsin has also seen a call for action from the judiciary.from The day she took officeJudge Rebecca Dallet of the Wisconsin Supreme Court emphasized that reducing racial inequality in the state’s judicial system is essential.

Judge Rebecca Dallet of the Wisconsin Supreme Court has warned of serious racial disparities in the state’s criminal justice system throughout her tenure. “Unfortunately, Wisconsin has been at the top of the list of imprisoned colored races, especially African Americans, for years,” says Daletto. She will be seen at the State Capitol on January 22, 2019. (Emily Hummer / Wisconsin Watch)

Durray was elected in 2018. This is one of the three left-wing judges in seven courts. After Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in 2020, Darrett and dozens of incumbent and retired Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges will treat colored races in Wisconsin’s judicial system. I asked you to reconsider.

“We can’t keep an eye on the issues of racial disparity and mass imprisonment,” they write. In an open letter. “Too many people are in the color behind the bar in Wisconsin. Treatment should be carefully considered as a means of dealing with trauma, mental illness, and addiction problems.”

With the letter, Durley formed a group of representatives of the criminal justice system and community groups, co-chaired with Bayfield County District Attorney Kimberly Lawton.State subcommittee Criminal Justice Coordination Council, She said, the group is in the early stages of learning about the causes of inequality and possible solutions.

“Unfortunately, I think Wisconsin has been at the top of the list of imprisoned colored races, especially African Americans, for years,” former prosecutor Daletto said in an interview. “It’s not an honor that we want to hold. It’s not an honor.”

Mr Whiteside said he recently won a small victory, including a decision by the Corrections Bureau to stop using terms such as “inmate” and “criminal.”

“The fact that we are having this conversation, and I am included in this conversation-it’s a victory,” Whiteside said. “Whether the languages ​​used by DOC are different, that is,” the people who care for us “and the prisoners or criminals, they are small but big for us. … it’s a victory. But that’s not enough. These statistics didn’t just happen overnight. “

Dee J. Hall contributed to this report. Non-profit Wisconsin Watch ( We work with WPR, PBS Wisconsin, other news media, and the UW-Madison Journalism Mass Communication School. All works created, published, posted, or distributed by Wisconsin Watch do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or its affiliates.

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